Toyota victorious at WEC opener

WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)The Japanese manufacturer emerged victorious in the Silverstone 6 Hours getting its 2014 World Endurance Championship campaign off to a great start.

The two Toyota TS040 Hybrids took first and second places with the win going to Davidson-Lapierre-Buemi.

The route to victory began with clinching pole position when Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima qualified the #7 TS040 HYBRID, which they share with Stéphane Sarrazin, at the head of the field by a tiny margin of just 0.005secs.

The WEC qualifying format requires two drivers from each car to set a minimum of two flying laps each. The grid is decided by the combined average of each driver’s fastest two laps.

WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)The #8 car, qualified by Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre as Sébastien Buemi watched from the pits, started from fifth on the grid, having missed most of final practice due to a super capacitor change.

The first round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship generated high expectations. There was a new set of regulations governing the blue riband category, LM P1; new entries, in particular the eagerly-awaited return of Porsche, and new challenges at stake in LM GTE with Porsche and Aston Martin determined to break 2013 champion Ferrari’s hegemony.

Despite the new technical regulations lowering fuel consumption drastically – up to 30 per cent – the cars put on stunning performances and the drivers had a ding-dong sporting battle. The race fulfilled all its promise.

After a thrilling early scrap between Toyota, Audi and Porsche the rain set in and caught out several drivers as they struggled to cope with the conditions.

WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)WEC silverstone (photo by Melissa Warren)Toyota took advantage of the situation to put its two cars in the lead. Audi was hit by bad luck in the form of accidents while the #14 Porsche retired with technical issues. Shortly after half-distance both R18 e-trons suffered their first double retirement for Audi since the 2011 Petit Le Mans.

Davidson-Laperre-Buemi took the chequered flag in first place in their Toyota TS040 Hybrid followed by the sister car in the hands of Wurz-Sarrazin-Nakajima. The race was stopped 25 minutes early because of a deluge that hit the circuit.

The Porsche 919 Hybrid of Webber-Bernhard-Hartley had a trouble-free race and came home third with fourth going to the Prost-Heidfeld-Beche Lola B12/60 coupe.

In LM P2 victory went to the G-Drive Racing trio of Rusinov-Pla-Canal in their Morgan-Nissan, the make’s second success in 24 hours after its win on Saturday in the first round of the European Le Mans Series.
Like Toyota in LM P1 Porsche came out on top in the LM GTE Pro category as the two works 911 RSRs scored a double after a hotly-disputed race in the opening hours with Ferrari providing tough opposition. The F458 spearheading Maranello’s attack, #51 driven by Bruni-Vilander, was handicapped by technical glitches and a penalty and it fell back. The #92 Porsche of Makowiecki-Holzer-Lietz took the flag in first place.

Aston Martin, which came third in GTE Pro thanks to Turner-Mücke in #97, scored the third double of the weekend in LM GTE Am with victory going to #95 in the hands of three Danes, Poulsen-Heinemeir Hansson-Thiim.

A total of 43 000 spectators flocked to the British circuit over the weekend compared to 35 000 in 2013!

Before tackling the pinnacle of the championship, the Le Mans 24 Hours on 14-15 June, for which double points will be awarded, the teams entered for the FIA World Endurance Championship will do battle again on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on 3rd May. By Melissa Warren

Written by