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WEC Spa: Toyota claims one-two, with Alonso's car taking victory

WEC Spa 6 Hours Fernando Alonso Toyota

Toyota secured a one-two finish in the opening round of the new FIA World Endurance Championship superseason at Spa, with Fernando Alonso's car taking a narrow win.

The #8 TS050 Hybrid Alonso shared with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima looked to be on course for an untroubled victory for the majority of the distance, helped by the sister #7 car being forced to start from the pitlane.

By the time the #7 Toyota had recovered to second place in the third hour, the #8 car was the best part of a minute ahead, despite Nakajima having to make an extra pitstop for his seatbelts not being fastened correctly and then spinning at La Source shortly afterwards.

The two Toyotas circulated around a minute apart until a late safety car period was caused by a big crash for Matevos Isaakyan in the #17 SMP Racing BR1-AER at the top of Eau Rouge.

That bunched up the pack, not long after Alonso had taken over from Nakajima for the final double stint, and Mike Conway took the restart hot on the Spaniard's heels.

However, despite closing to within a second of the two-time Formula 1 champion at one stage, Conway never attempted a pass, and duly crossed the line 1.4 seconds behind Alonso, who claimed his first race victory since the 2013 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso Buemi Nakajima Toyota LMP1 WEC Spa 2018Rebellion Racing initially took third and fourth in the first race for its pair of new Oreca-built R-13-Gibsons, having emerged as clearly the quickest of the non-hybrid teams.

The #1 car of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna survived two trips to the pits due to transponder issues to take the final step on the podium, two laps down on the Toyotas.

But they were later excluded owing to an overly worn skid block, which was found to be 1.2mm under the tolerance permitted by the rules.

Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Mathias Beche took fourth in the #3 car on the road but were promotted to third. They had been battling the #17 SMP entry for the final podium spot until Isaakyan's crash.

The ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan shared by Tom Dillmann, Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer took a distant fifth, a further three laps back on the Rebellion pair, while the #11 SMP car of Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov was last of the LMP1 finishers in sixth.

Vergne and co cruise to LMP2 win

G-Drive Racing Jean-Eric Vergne Roman Runsinov Andrea Pizzitola LMP2 WEC SpaG-Drive Racing took a straightforward LMP2 class win in its wildcard Oreca entry driven by Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Runsinov and Andrea Pizzitola.

The #26 Oreca had held a lead of more than a minute before the safety car at the start of the final hour, and despite having that advantage heavily reduced Vergne was still able to finish 21 seconds clear of the opposition.

Jackie Chan DC Racing's #38 Oreca beat the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca to second as Ho-Pin Tung jumped ahead of Andre Negrao in the final round of pitstops.

Pastor Maldonado finished sixth on his WEC debut in the DragonSpeed Oreca he shared with Nathanael Berthon and Roberto Gonzalez after being delayed by a brief stoppage on track and a drive-through penalty for pitlane speeding.

Giedo van der Garde enjoyed a spell out front early on in the race in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara before his charge was halted by an alternator problem.

Ford beat Porsche in GTE Pro

Olivier Pal Stefan Mucke Billy Johnson GTE Pro WEC Spa Ford PorscheFord trio Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke and Billy Johnson took victory in the GTE Pro class in the #66 Ganassi-run GT following a heavy crash for Harry Tincknell at Eau Rouge in the sister car.

Tincknell was running second behind the sister Ford when he lost control and crashed head-on into the barriers at the end of the second hour, bringing out the safety car.

The Briton emerged unharmed, but the cause of the crash remains unknown pending a post-race investigation by Ford.

Tincknell's crash made it a three-horse race between the #66 Ford and the two works Porsche 911 RSRs, with Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni having pulled out a 20-second gap in the #91 Porsche after Lietz passed Mucke for the lead in the third hour.

But Isaakyan's crash reset their fight at the start of the final hour, and Pla was able to get the place back and open up a gap to take a comfortable victory.

After being passed by Pla, Lietz was demoted a further place by Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche the Dane shares with Kevin Estre, which went on to take second.

Lietz then continued to haemorrhage time, and after a late dogfight was beaten to third by the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.

The #51 Ferrari of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi had been ahead of the #71 car until Calado got involved in a pitlane scrape with the #56 Project 1 Porsche of Egidio Perfetti that consigned it to the garage.

BMW finished fifth with the best of its new M8 GTEs on its WEC debut, while the new Aston Martin Vantages were sixth and seventh.

GTE Am victory by two-tenths

Aston Martin Pedro Lamy Mathias Lauda Paul Dalla Lana WEC SpaThe GTE Am class was won by the #98 Aston Martin Vantage after Pedro Lamy fended off the #90 TF Sport Aston of Euan Hankey in a nailbiting finish.

A 35-second advantage for the works car was reduced to five by the final safety car, after which Hankey closed in and put Lamy under big pressure in the closing minutes.

The pair made contact at the Bus Stop chicane as they battled for the win, but Lamy held on to the win by just 0.221s at the finish in the car he shares with Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.

Race results

1LMP1S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.AlonsoToyota Gazoo RacingToyota1636h00m50.702s
2LMP1M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.LopezToyota Gazoo RacingToyota1631.444s
3LMP1M.Beche, T.Laurent, G.MenezesRebellion RacingRebellion/Gibson1612 Laps
4LMP1O.Webb, D.Kraihamer, T.DillmannByKOLLES Racing TeamENSO CLM/NISMO1585 Laps
5LMP1M.Aleshin, V.PetrovSMP RacingBR Engineering/AER1585 Laps
6LMP2R.Rusinov, J-E.Vergne, A.PizzitolaG-Drive RacingORECA/Gibson1567 Laps
7LMP2H-Pin Tung, G.Aubry, S.RichelmiJackie Chan DC RacingORECA/Gibson1567 Laps
8LMP2N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.ThirietSignatech Alpine MatmutAlpine/Gibson1567 Laps
9LMP2J.Jaafar, W.Tan, N.JeffriJackie Chan DC RacingORECA/Gibson1558 Laps
10LMP2F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.DuvalTDS RacingORECA/Gibson1558 Laps
11LMP2R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, N.BerthonDragonSpeedORECA/Gibson1558 Laps
12LMP2E.Creed, R.Ricci, J.CanalLarbre CompetitionLigier/Gibson15211 Laps
13GTE ProS.Mucke, O.Pla, B.JohnsonFord Chip Ganassi Team UKFord14815 Laps
14GTE ProM.Christensen, K.EstrePorsche GT TeamPorsche14815 Laps
15GTE ProD.Rigon, S.BirdAF CorseFerrari14716 Laps
16GTE ProR.Lietz, G.BruniPorsche GT TeamPorsche14716 Laps
17GTE ProT.Blomqvist, A.F.da CostaBMW Team MTEKBMW14617 Laps
18GTE ProA.Lynn, M.Martin, J.AdamAston Martin RacingAston Martin14617 Laps
19GTE ProM.Sorensen, N.Thiim, D.TurnerAston Martin RacingAston Martin14617 Laps
20GTE ProM.Tomczyk, N.CatsburgBMW Team MTEKBMW14518 Laps
21GTE AmP.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.LaudaAston Martin RacingAston Martin14419 Laps
22GTE AmS.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.EastwoodTF SportAston Martin14419 Laps
23GTE AmMok W.S., K.Sawa, M.GriffinClearwater RacingFerrari14320 Laps
24GTE AmC.Ried, J.Andlauer, M.CampbellDempsey-Proton RacingPorsche14221 Laps
25GTE AmM.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.CheeverMR RacingFerrari14221 Laps
26GTE AmK.Al Qubaisi, G.Roda, M.CairoliDempsey-Proton RacingPorsche14122 Laps
27GTE ProA.P.Guidi, J.CaladoAF CorseFerrari13924 Laps
28LMP2F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, J.LammersRacing Team NederlandDallara/Gibson13924 Laps
29GTE AmM.Wainwright, B.Barker, A.DavisonGulf RacingPorsche13726 Laps
30GTE AmT.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.FisichellaSpirit of RaceFerrari13627 Laps
31GTE AmJ.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.PerfettiTeam Project 1Porsche13132 Laps
-LMP1N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.SennaRebellion RacingRebellion/Gibson161Disqualified
-LMP1S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, M.IsaakyanSMP RacingBR Engineering/AER132Retirement
-GTE ProA.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, T.KanaanFord Chip Ganassi Team UKFord26Retirement
-LMP1C.Robertson, D.StonemanCEFC TRSM RacingGinetta/Mecachrome0Withdrawn
-LMP1O.Rowland, A.Brundle, O.TurveyCEFC TRSM RacingGinetta/Mecachrome0Withdrawn
-LMP1H.Hedman, B.Hanley, P.FittipaldiDragonSpeedBR Engineering/Gibson0Withdrawn

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