Kazuki Nakajima, Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson took Toyota’s 11th victory in the WEC after a frantic contest which had drama throughout the six hours.
Buemi made a move on Brendon Hartley with just 12 minutes remaining of the six hours to take the victory and, in doing so, the Toyota drivers also claimed the famous and historic RAC Tourist Trophy.
Sébastien Buemi said: “I am so happy with this win. It has been a long time since the last one on our car so it’s great to start the season like that. It was a tough race and really exciting at the end. The car was quick and during the last stint I was on fresher tyres so that was an advantage. When I caught the Porsche I knew it was my only opportunity as they were faster on the straights due to their low downforce package. So I had to try something and happily it worked out well.”
Two Full Course Yellow and one Safety Car period bunched up the field in the fourth hour after Jose-Maria Lopez crashed his Toyota TS050 HYBRID at Copse Corner.
The pole-sitting #7 Toyota had led in stages during the first two hours but after one of several light showers dampened the circuit, the Argentinian WEC newcomer slid off track and crashed into the tyre barriers. Incredibly, the car made it back to the pits and eventually returned to action to be classified fourth in LMP1. Lopez was taken for precautionary checks to the local hospital but was later released with a clean bill of health.
José María López said: “The race started really well but then we had the anti-roll bar problem at the end of Mike’s stint. Kamui did really well to keep us in the race and I was so looking forward to getting in the car. It started raining and when I was going into Copse I had the problem. It was a little bit a combination of the anti-roll bar, the wet and I touched the kerb with my rear tyre. It was a big impact and at the beginning I felt some pain so I’m happy that all the checks showed no problems. Now I’m ready to come back for Spa.”
Porsche took the fight to Toyota and recorded second and third positions, but were always in with a chance of a surprise victory throughout the afternoon.
Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber took second position in the #2 919 Hybrid as the team tried to maximise their low-downforce package, which was at a disadvantage compared to Toyota’s high-downforce bodywork kit.
But Toyota proved slightly too strong and when Buemi emerged from the pits with fresh Michelins for the final thirty minutes it was only a matter of time before he hunted down and overtook Hartley.
Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and André Lotterer claimed third position after being amidst the lead battle for three-quarters of the race in their #1 Porsche.
LMP2 saw the newly named Jackie Chan DC Racing trio of Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung take the win in the category.
JOTA-Sport run Jackie Chan DC Racing became the first Chinese entered team to win a WEC race when the order was shaken up after the Full Course Yellow and Safety Car periods. The team took advantage and won by almost 20-seconds from the Vaillante Rebellion trio of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal.
Reigning champions Signatech Alpine (Nicolas Lapierre, Matt Rao and Gustavo Menezes) led the most laps in class but slipped back and eventually claimed fourth position behind the TDS Racing ORECA-Gibson driven by Mathieu Vaxivière, Emmanuel Collard and François Perrodo.
The #67 Ford GT came back from early issues with a loose door and a deflating tyre to take maximum points in LMGTE Pro. The Ford GT had been the quickest of the cars all weekend and both the #67 and the #66 cars led for the majority of the race.
After gaining a free pit stop after the Safety Car was deployed in the fourth hour, Harry Tincknell blazed to the front, overtaking the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE for the lead. Even a late race re-occurrence of the door-opening issue failed to hold back Tincknell who took the chequered flag 15-seconds clear of the James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi-driven Ferrari.
The #91 Porsche 911 RSR of Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz made it three different manufacturers in the top three. The new mid-engined LMGTE Pro car made an encouraging WEC debut but its sister car driven by Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen retired after a fire stranded it out on the circuit in the third hour.
Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla and Billy Johnson took fourth position, while the #71 AF Corse Ferrari came home fifth after delays when Sam Bird was penalised for a collision with Matthias Beche’s Vaillante Rebellion.
Clearwater Racing took a debut victory in one of the most dramatic and memorable finishes to any WEC class race.
The Singapore team incredibly entered the last lap of the race in third position but finished first as a collision between the leading #98 Aston Martin Racing car driven by Pedro Lamy and the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE entry of Miguel Molina let Matt Griffin through to win the class.
It was a proud moment for Weng Sun Mok and Keita Sewa who took their first WEC wins on what was their first visit to Silverstone and their full championship debut.
Earlier in the final hour Matt Griffin had hunted down and overtaken Pedro Lamy in a thrilling fight but then had to stop for a splash of fuel, seemingly handing the win to Aston. Lamy and team mates Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda had led the majority of the race but saw their advantage cut by the Safety Car. They eventually recovered from the last lap incident to take second position.
Dempsey-Proton Racing took the final podium place in their Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst crewed Porsche 911 RSR (991).
50,200 fans enjoyed the WEC race at Silverstone this weekend and the championship now moves on to Belgium for the second round, the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday 6th May.
1 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing BUEMI / DAVIDSON / NAKAJIMA Toyota TS050 – Hybrid LMP1 H M
197 6:00:33.211 6 3 1:39.804 212.9
2 2 Porsche LMP Team BERNHARD / BAMBER / HARTLEY Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 H M
197 6:00:39.384 6.173 6.173 7 5 1:40.705 210.9
3 1 Porsche LMP Team JANI / LOTTERER / TANDY Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 H M 197 6:01:20.167 46.956 40.783 8 143 1:40.676 211.0
4 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing TUNG / JARVIS / LAURENT Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
184 6:01:34.465 13 Laps 13 Laps 9 153 1:46.256 199.9
5 31 Vaillante Rebellion CANAL / PROST / SENNA Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
184 6:01:53.841 13 Laps 19.376 9 5 1:47.536 197.5
6 28 TDS Racing PERRODO / VAXIVIERE / COLLARD Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D 184 6:01:55.733 13 Laps 1.892 8 182 1:46.658 199.2
7 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut LAPIERRE / MENEZES / RAO Alpine A470 – Gibson LMP2 D
183 6:00:58.224 14 Laps 1 Laps 8 160 1:47.126 198.3
8 26 G-Drive Racing RUSINOV / THIRIET / LYNN Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
183 6:01:30.471 14 Laps 32.247 8 139 1:47.241 198.1
9 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing GRAVES / HIRSCHI / VERGNE Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
183 6:02:06.299 14 Laps 35.828 8 181 1:46.872 198.8
10 25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing GONZALEZ / TRUMMER / PETROV Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
182 6:01:08.160 15 Laps 1 Laps 8 143 1:48.090 196.5
11 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing CHENG / BRUNDLE / GOMMENDY Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
182 6:01:19.950 15 Laps 11.790 8 149 1:46.697 199.1
12 13 Vaillante Rebellion BECHE / HEINEMEIER HANSSON / PIQUET JR Oreca 07 – Gibson LMP2 D
172 6:00:45.562 25 Laps 10 Laps 10 145 1:46.712 199.1
13 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK PRIAULX / TINCKNELL / DERANI Ford GT LMGTE Pro M
171 6:01:28.070 26 Laps 1 Laps 6 2 1:57.416 180.9
14 51 AF Corse CALADO / PIER GUIDI Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Pro M
171 6:01:43.674 26 Laps 15.604 7 113 1:59.035 178.5
15 91 Porsche GT Team LIETZ / MAKOWIECKI Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro M
171 6:01:54.655 26 Laps 10.981 6 111 1:58.193 179.7
16 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK MÜCKE / PLA / JOHNSON Ford GT LMGTE Pro M
171 6:01:55.561 26 Laps 0.906 5 3 1:57.856 180.3
17 71 AF Corse RIGON / BIRD Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Pro M
170 6:00:41.094 27 Laps 1 Laps 6 61 1:58.687 179.0
18 95 Aston Martin Racing THIIM / SØRENSEN / STANAWAY Aston Martin VANTAGE LMGTE Pro D
170 6:01:24.847 27 Laps 43.753 6 2 1:59.297 178.1
19 97 Aston Martin Racing TURNER / ADAM / SERRA Aston Martin VANTAGE LMGTE Pro D
168 6:01:26.459 29 Laps 2 Laps 7 135 1:59.483 177.8
20 61 Clearwater Racing MOK / SAWA / GRIFFIN Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Am M 166 6:01:40.106 31 Laps 2 Laps 6 137 1:59.927 177.1
21 98 Aston Martin Racing DALLA LANA / LAMY / LAUDA Aston Martin V8 Vantage LMGTE Am D
166 6:01:41.874 31 Laps 1.768 5 138 2:00.295 176.6
22 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing RIED / CAIROLI / DIENST Porsche 911 RSR (991) LMGTE Am D
166 6:02:05.421 31 Laps 23.547 5 139 2:01.283 175.2
23 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing CONWAY / KOBAYASHI / LOPEZ Toyota TS050 – Hybrid LMP1 H M
159 6:01:21.629 38 Laps 7 Laps 6 4 1:39.656 213.2
24 86 Gulf Racing UK WAINWRIGHT / BARKER / FOSTER Porsche 911 RSR (991) LMGTE Am D
143 6:00:38.856 54 Laps 16 Laps 5 3 2:00.528 176.3
54 Spirit of Race FLOHR / CASTELLACCI / MOLINA Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Am M 165 5:59:33.535 5 139 1:59.567 177.7
4 Bykolles Racing Team WEBB / KRAIHAMER / ROSSITER ENSO CLM P1/01 – Nismo LMP1 M
155 5:13:51.672 8 11 1:47.298 198.0
92 Porsche GT Team CHRISTENSEN / ESTRE Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro M 95 3:15:25.888 3 64 1:59.117 178.3 By Melissa Warren