Toyota took advantage of torrential early rain to take a one-two finish in the Spa round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, as the #7 crew extended its points lead with a victory.
Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi scored their third win of the 2019/20 season after coming home 34 seconds ahead of the sister #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, who finished second for the fourth race in a row.
The #7 car seized the advantage by switching directly from wet tyres to slicks in the first hour, and gained further time when the #8 car suffered with power loss issues.
Two safety car periods – one for poor weather and the other for a big crash at Blanchimont for Thomas Laurent in the Signatech Alpine Oreca LMP2 car with just over two hours to go – allowed the #8 car to close, but on neither occasion was the #7 car serious challenged.
Although Rebellion Racing had topped every practice session on its way to taking pole position on Friday, the Swiss team’s sole R-13-Gibson struggled badly in the wet early on and lost a lap to the two Toyota TS050 Hybrids in the first hour.
Conditions improved before another downpour later in the race, which helped to cement the advantage of the two Toyotas and left Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato and Bruno Senna to finish a distant third.
ByKolles’ returning ENSO CLM P1/01-Gibson briefly ran ahead of the Rebellion early on before being delayed by electrical gremlins, before an engine sensor forced the car into the garage in the final hour, dropping it well down the order.
United Autosports took a third straight victory in LMP2 with Paul di Resta, Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque in the #22 Oreca.
The Racing Team Nederland Oreca that led for much of the first half of the race finished third behind the Cool Racing Oreca once Frits van Eerd took over in the latter stages.
Van Eerd played a role in triggering Laurent’s big crash at Blanchimont while the pair were battling over second in class, as the Dutch driver moved across on the Signatech car as both were trying to navigate the GTE Am class Red River Sport Ferrari.
JOTA Sport’s two Goodyear-shod cars had a race to forget, with the #38 car ending up fourth after appearing to struggle early on in the wet conditions and the sister #37 car losing eight laps with an early brake balance issue.
GTE: Porsche’s reigning champions get first win of the season
Porsche pair Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen took their first win of the 2019/20 season after coming out on top against the two Aston Martin Vantage GTEs.
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