MOTORSPORT NEWS WORLD ENDURANCE RACING

Toyota wins hard-fought WEC victory at Silverstone

 FORD GT TAKES WIN IN GTE PRO

Toyota claimed a narrow victory over Porsche in the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone Sunday in a race the team was expected to dominate.

2017 World Endurance Championship,
Silverstone, UK. 14th-16th April 2017,
Sebastien Buemi / Anthony Davidson / Kazuki Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid
World Copyright. JEP/LAT Photographic

Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima took the victory in the high-downforce Toyota TS050 Hybrid. They were kept honest by the Porsche 919 Hybrid running in an aerodynamic configuration aimed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The best of the German cars shared by Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber leapfrogged the Toyota at the final round of pit stops after forgoing new tires.

Hartley came out of the pits with an eight-second lead over the Toyota, but Buemi was able to close him down and get past to take the lead eight laps before the finish of the six-hour race.

Toyota would have finished with a wider gap than six seconds, but a safety-car period in the fourth hour undid much of the Japanese manufacturer’s early work. The winning car had been nearly 40 seconds to the ahead before two full-course yellow periods — virtual safety cars– that preceded the deployment of the real safety car.

Ford GT

“In the last stint I was on the fresher tires, so I had to be stronger and a little bit of rain helped,” said Buemi. “Brendon was kind enough to leave me a little bit of room.”

The No. 2 Porsche of Hartley, Bernhard and Bamber had the edge over its sister car shared by Neel Jani, Nick Tandy and Andre Lotterer over the race distance. The second Porsche faded to a distant third, 46 seconds behind the winners in the final stages.

The second Toyota ended up in 23rd position and was the reason for the safety car. The No. 7 car shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López was a match for the race-winning car until the rear anti-roll bar broke shortly before the end of Conway’s opening double stint. López subsequently crashed after putting a wheel on a damp curb in the fourth hour, which resulted in the safety car, a long stop for repairs and a 23rd-place finish.

Ford took victory in GTE Pro with Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Pipo Derani. Priaulx built an early lead from the class pole aboard the Ganassi Ford GT before a deflating front left tire dropped him back and resulted in an early first pit stop.

Toyota driver José María López was taken to a hospital Sunday after a high-speed crash late in the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening race at Silverstone.Lopez was racing the …

 That appeared to have put them out of contention, but the safety car gave them the break they needed and undermined the chances of the sister car shared by Stefan Mucke, Billy Johnson and Olivier Pla, which had looked on course for victory.

Tincknell brought the car home 15 seconds ahead of the factory AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE shared by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, which ended up 10 seconds up on the third-placed Porsche 911 RSR driven by Frederick Makowiecki and Richard Lietz.

LMP2 honors went to the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA-Gibson 07 driven by Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent. They were another crew to benefit from the safety car, before which they had trailed the Signatech Alpine ORECA driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Matt Rao by a clear margin.

GTE Am victory went to the Singapore Clearwater Ferrari driven by Matt Griffin, Keita Sawa and Weng Sun Mok after a dramatic last lap. Griffin was running in third position in class just behind the Aston Martin Vantage GTE driven by Pedro Lamy and the Spirit of Race Ferrari with Miguel Molina at the wheel. Griffin came through to win when Lamy and Molina collided three corners from the checkered flag.