The 2020 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps saw the two Michelin-equipped Toyota TS050 Hybrids come first and second in Belgium in the hands of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez (N°7) and Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley (N°8). Showery weather made getting tyre strategies spot-on particularly vital but also highlighted the quality of the range provided by Michelin for the return of FIA WEC action.
Heavy rain fell moments before the start of the 2020 6 Hours Spa-Francorchamps – which was run behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and the race’s first four hours took place in a mix of showers and brighter intervals that made tyre choice particularly complex.
An hour after lights-out, Mike Conway (Toyota 7) took advantage of his first refuelling stop to switch to Michelin Pilot Sport Endurance slicks, but Sébastien Buemi (Toyota 8) stayed out on wets before pitting a second time just laps afterwards to imitate his British team-mate.
The combination of this additional stop and electronics gremlins prevented the N°8 car from challenging for the win, leaving Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez to take the afternoon’s top prize. Despite qualifying on pole, the N°1 Rebellion/Michelin was unable to match the pace of the Japanese four-wheel drive prototypes in the rain but succeeded in joining them on the podium after posting the fastest race lap.
At the race’s midpoint, a fierce battle raged between the six LMGTE Pro cars which, between them, were running all of the different Michelin tyres available for Spa at this stage, namely wets (N°92 Porsche, N°97 Aston Martin and N°71 Ferrari), intermediates (N°95 Aston Martin) and slicks (N°91 Porsche and N°51 Ferrari)! The win ended up going to Christensen/Estre in the N°92 Porsche/Michelin which was followed over the line by the two Aston Martin Vantages.
In LMP2, the N°29 Oreca overcame the handicap of starting from the back of the grid to ease past the similar N°22 prototype and take the lead after the first round of pit stops when both cars stayed on the same set of rain tyres for a second stint. The latter part of the race, however, panned out in favour of the United Autosports car (N°22, Hanson/Albuquerque/Di Resta) which has now gone unbeaten since last December. The N°36 Alpine lost all chance of a top result due to a crash at Blanchimont. The LMP2 class allows open competition between tyre brands, but Michelin’s partners had a clear edge in the delicate conditions that marked the race’s early stages.
The LMGTE Am class was won by the N°83 Ferrari/Michelin (Perrodo/Collard/Nielsen) which rounded out Michelin’s grand slam day in Belgium where the firm’s partners topped all four classes, an encouraging sign ahead of the fast-approaching Le Mans 24 Hours on September 19-20.