Toyota triumph in dramatic rain affected WEC Spa

The No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar took its first win of the 2022 WEC season in an action-packed race at the 2022 TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa in a dramatic and rain affected event.

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kamui Kobayashi, Jose-Maria Lopez and Mike Conway took victory where over half the race was run under race suspensions due to incidents and heavy rain triggering three red flags, six safety cars and five full course yellows periods.

But through it all came the No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar which ensured that the Japanese manufacturer scored its sixth consecutive victory at the legendary Belgian venue and its second in the Hypercar category.

Jose-Maria Lopez took the chequered flag 27-seconds ahead of the second placed Alpine ELF Team squad of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicola Lapierre and Andre Negrao, after largely controlling the final two hours of the race.

Hypercar winner: José-María López #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota GR010 Hybrid said: “At the beginning, I didn’t want to get left behind, so we made our way through to past the Glickenhaus and – for about an hour – enjoyed the best of the conditions of the day. Then, the conditions changed, and the wet running was really treacherous – a lot of standing water and it was just hard to keep it on the road, but we stayed out of trouble. And that’s what we needed – to get some points on the table. Unfortunately for car 8, they had their issues.”

Prior to that, the race was led initially by the pole-sitting Glickenhaus 007LMH car, then the No.8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar and the WRT LMP2 entry, as a series of rain showers left the track un-raceable for periods of the six hours endurance race.

Glickenhaus Racing’s trio of Olivier Pla, Pipo Derani and Romain Dumas took the final step on the podium. The result came after a memorable week in which the American constructor took a maiden WEC pole.

The No.8 Toyota Gazoo Racing entered Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar of Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley retired in the second hour of the race with a suspected hybrid systems issue that stranded the car on track.

This left the No.7 Toyota able to establish some race winning momentum and enable Toyota Gazoo Racing’s president, Koji Sato, to savour the win from the podium with the winning crew.

Alpine’s second place ensures that they extend their lead in the 2022 standings.

Ferrari Beats Porsche by 0.523s

James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi claimed a sensational LMGTE Pro victory after one of the best category races seen in WEC’s decade long history.

The No.51 AF Corse duo surged to the front in a rollercoaster race that saw a final hour shoot-out with the No.92 Porsche GT Team entered Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Michael Christensen.

Calado was able to hold off the flying Dane in the final laps, after a late full course yellow to give the Porsche an opportunity to make a move. Christensen had fought to clear the sister AF Corse Ferrari driven by Antonio Fuoco in the last 30-minutes and made a decisive move at La Source despite some contact between the pair.

Calado then came under intense pressure but was able to defend the lead. This was despite Christensen looking as though he might make a last ditch move into the Bus Stop chicane but it was Ferrari that was ultimately victorious.

LMGTE Pro winner: James Calado #51 AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE Evo said: “It’s not a nice feeling getting into the car for the first time on a wet track on slicks and cold tyres, because we were under a full course yellow, but I just got into the groove and managed to improve my driving a little bit. I didn’t have any references due to the lack of running throughout the race. I eventually got up to speed but I knew the Porsche will be there in the end. I could see its speed, especially in sectors one and two they were very strong. I didn’t want to give up and I gave it my absolute all, sometimes over the limit. I nearly crashed the car three times. It’s nice to have a battle with them again and nice for Ferrari to have two cars on the podium.”

The No.92 Porsche had taken the lead at the start of the race but did so after some contact with the pole clinching No.91 sister Porsche started by Gianmaria Bruni. The Italian was forced to make a slow lap with a puncture and dropped a lap on the leading cars. Bruni and teammate Richard Lietz then fought back but were only able to finish fifth.

Rounding out the category podium were Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina in the No.52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo. Fuoco had initially held off the charging Christensen in the final hour.

Corvette Racing’s Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner took fourth but their race was compromised by getting stranded in the pits when they had the misfortune to stop just as the first of the three red flags was deployed.

Home win for WRT in LMP2

The local WRT team swept to a brilliant home victory as Rene Rast, Sean Gelael and Robin Frijns claimed a highly popular LMP2 victory.

Frijns even led the race overall in the mid-point of the race as he pulled away from eventual winner Mike Conway in a sensational display of wet weather driving.

It was WRT’s fourth victory since it entered the WEC a year ago and ensured that Frijns, Rast and Gelael head the points standings heading into Le Mans next month.

LMP2 winner: René Rast #31 WRT, Oreca 07 – Gibson said: “You can feel that everyone [within the team] is very happy with a 1-2 for WRT. Everyone has worked very hard for this result and everyone invited their families and friends as it’s a home race. There was a bit of chaos going on – going out on slicks in half dry, half wet conditions is never easy. I tried to be very conservative and don’t do any mistakes. There was an LMP2 car spinning in front of me I went on the brakes, locked up, but he still came towards me. We had slight contact, I damaged the splitter and after I felt huge vibrations and had loads of understeer. It was just five minutes from the end, so we were happy at the time that the race didn’t go for very long.”

The Ferdinand Habsburg, Rui Andrade and Norman Nato crewed Realteam by WRT Oreca-Gibson ensured it was a perfect day for the Vincent Vosse led squad, while the No.38 JOTA car of Will Stevens, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez took the final step of the podium.

Several action-packed battles played out in the final hour of the race with Team Penske in the thick of the action as Felipe Nasr battled with the No.22 United Autosports USA car of Phil Hanson.

The No.83 AF Corse entry of Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera and Nicklas Nielsen repeated their Sebring result by taking another Pro/Am division win to add to Rovera’s achievement of sealing pole position in LMP2.

Dempsey Proton take LMGTE Am win

The Harry Tincknell, Christian Reid and Sebastien Priaulx took LMGTE Am victory in the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche and secured the German teams’ first WEC win since the 2019 race at Spa.

Tincknell held off a charging TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage driven by Marco Sorensen in the final laps to become the first driver to win with three separate GT marques – Aston Martin, Ford and now Porsche.

Sorensen and his teammates Ben Keating and Henrique Chaves were just 1.5s off Tincknell as they crossed the finish line.

LMGTE AM winner: Harry Tincknell # 77 Dempsey – Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR – 19 said: “Seb [Priaulx] did a great job in his stint. He was on the softs and for sure that was the right tyre at the time. He advanced through the field pretty quickly, up to third and was catching the two Astons ahead pretty fast. Then all the chaos with the full course yellow started to happen. They both boxed and we went for a fuel marathon. I tried to save as much as I could. The pace was really strong until it restarted to dry out and the soft tyre started to degrade really fast. I went from thinking ‘we’re OK,’ to ‘we’re in trouble now,’ but the last full course yellow not only helped with the fuel but also helped to cool the tyres down. There was a couple of points on the track where it was really tricky and very easy to make a mistake. I said to myself that I’m going to take maximum risk and managed to pull away for around 4-5 seconds. Fantastic job by the two guys to my left who set me up perfectly.”

Aston Martin enjoyed a strong result, as the Northwest AMR entry of Nicki Thiim, Paul Dalla Lana and David Pittard finished on the podium in third position.

The next round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship is the 24 Hours of Le Mans which will take place over the weekend of the 11/12 June.

Race result

1;7;Toyota Gazoo Racing;Mike CONWAY;Kamui KOBAYASHI;Jose Maria LOPEZ;;Toyota GR010 HYBRID;M;HYPERCAR;H;;Classified;103;6:00’31.052;;;5;2’05.624;200.7;;

2;36;Alpine ELF Team;André NEGRÃO;Nicolas LAPIERRE;Matthieu VAXIVIERE;;Alpine A480 – Gibson;M;HYPERCAR;;;Classified;103;6:00’58.525;27.473;27.473;5;2’06.051;200.0;;

3;31;WRT;Sean GELAEL;Robin FRIJNS;René RAST;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;103;6:01’37.237;1’06.185;38.712;6;2’07.648;197.5;;

4;41;Realteam by WRT;Rui ANDRADE;Ferdinand HABSBURG;Norman NATO;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;103;6:02’11.728;1’40.676;34.491;8;2’08.616;196.0;;

5;38;JOTA;Roberto GONZALEZ;Antonio Felix DA COSTA;William STEVENS;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;103;6:02’19.623;1’48.571;7.895;5;2’06.955;198.6;;

6;5;Team Penske;Dane CAMERON;Emmanuel COLLARD;Felipe NASR;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;103;6:02’28.662;1’57.610;9.039;6;2’08.238;196.6;;

7;22;United Autosports USA;Philip HANSON;Filipe ALBUQUERQUE;William OWEN;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;103;6:02’28.953;1’57.901;0.291;5;2’07.859;197.2;;

8;23;United Autosports USA;Alexander LYNN;Oliver JARVIS;Joshua PIERSON;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;102;6:00’51.555;1 Laps;1 Laps;5;2’08.264;196.6;;

9;708;Glickenhaus Racing;Olivier PLA;Romain DUMAS;Luis Felipe DERANI;;Glickenhaus 007 LMH;M;HYPERCAR;;;Classified;102;6:01’27.670;1 Laps;36.115;5;2’05.448;201.0;;

10;9;Prema Orlen Team;Robert KUBICA;Louis DELETRAZ;Lorenzo COLOMBO;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;102;6:02’11.572;1 Laps;43.902;7;2’07.865;197.2;;

11;51;AF Corse;Alessandro PIER GUIDI;James CALADO;;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Pro;;;Classified;102;6:02’27.343;1 Laps;15.771;11;2’15.984;185.4;;

12;92;Porsche GT Team;Michael CHRISTENSEN;Kevin ESTRE;;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Pro;;;Classified;102;6:02’27.866;1 Laps;0.523;9;2’15.220;186.5;;

13;52;AF Corse;Miguel MOLINA;Antonio FUOCO;;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Pro;;;Classified;102;6:02’28.599;1 Laps;0.733;11;2’15.983;185.4;;

14;1;Richard Mille Racing Team;Lilou WADOUX;Sébastien OGIER;Charles MILESI;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;101;6:00’39.159;2 Laps;1 Laps;8;2’08.397;196.4;;

15;83;AF Corse;François PERRODO;Nicklas NIELSEN;Alessio ROVERA;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;P/A;;Classified;101;6:01’01.754;2 Laps;22.595;8;2’07.878;197.2;;

16;10;Vector Sport;Nico MÜLLER;Ryan CULLEN;Sebastien BOURDAIS;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Classified;101;6:01’02.254;2 Laps;0.500;9;2’08.359;196.4;;

17;45;Algarve Pro Racing;Steven THOMAS;James ALLEN;René BINDER;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;P/A;;Classified;101;6:01’09.553;2 Laps;7.299;21;2’08.549;196.1;;

18;64;Corvette Racing;Tommy MILNER;Nick TANDY;;;Chevrolet Corvette C8.R;M;LMGTE Pro;;;Classified;101;6:02’04.285;2 Laps;54.732;6;2’15.444;186.2;;

19;35;Ultimate;Jean-Baptiste LAHAYE;Matthieu LAHAYE;François HERIAU;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;P/A;;Classified;100;6:01’48.001;3 Laps;1 Laps;92;2’09.608;194.5;;

20;91;Porsche GT Team;Gianmaria BRUNI;Richard LIETZ;;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Pro;;;Classified;100;6:02’20.208;3 Laps;32.207;4;2’15.147;186.6;;

21;77;Dempsey – Proton Racing;Christian RIED;Sebastian PRIAULX;Harry TINCKNELL;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;99;6:01’18.670;4 Laps;1 Laps;96;2’18.052;182.6;;

22;33;TF Sport;Ben KEATING;Henrique CHAVES;Marco SØRENSEN;;Aston Martin Vantage AMR;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;99;6:01’20.209;4 Laps;1.539;90;2’18.228;182.4;;

23;98;Northwest AMR;Paul DALLA LANA;David PITTARD;Nicki THIIM;;Aston Martin Vantage AMR;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;99;6:01’22.351;4 Laps;2.142;98;2’17.888;182.9;;

24;54;AF Corse;Thomas FLOHR;Francesco CASTELLACCI;Nicholas CASSIDY;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;99;6:01’50.607;4 Laps;28.256;98;2’18.226;182.4;;

25;46;Team Project 1;Matteo CAIROLI;Mikkel PEDERSEN;Nicolas LEUTWILER;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;99;6:02’20.575;4 Laps;29.968;87;2’18.337;182.3;;

26;86;GR Racing;Michael WAINWRIGHT;Riccardo PERA;Benjamin BARKER;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;98;6:01’49.371;5 Laps;1 Laps;88;2’17.160;183.8;;

27;777;D’Station Racing;Satoshi HOSHINO;Tomonobu FUJII;Charles FAGG;;Aston Martin Vantage AMR;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;97;6:01’10.265;6 Laps;1 Laps;11;2’17.313;183.6;;

28;60;Iron Lynx;Claudio SCHIAVONI;Matteo CRESSONI;Giancarlo FISICHELLA;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;97;6:02’19.405;6 Laps;1’09.140;96;2’18.902;181.5;;

29;88;Dempsey – Proton Racing;Fred POORDAD;Patrick LINDSEY;Jan HEYLEN;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;96;6:01’06.566;7 Laps;1 Laps;88;2’19.087;181.3;;

30;85;Iron Dames;Rahel FREY;Doriane PIN;Christina NIELSEN;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;96;6:02’49.735;7 Laps;1’43.169;87;2’20.046;180.0;;

31;21;AF Corse;Simon MANN;Christoph ULRICH;Toni VILANDER;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;94;6:00’42.263;9 Laps;2 Laps;19;2’17.381;183.5;;

32;71;Spirit of Race;Franck DEZOTEUX;Pierre RAGUES;Gabriel AUBRY;;Ferrari 488 GTE Evo;M;LMGTE Am;;;Classified;91;6:02’14.390;12 Laps;3 Laps;6;2’17.750;183.0;;

Not classified

33;56;Team Project 1;Brendan IRIBE;Oliver MILLROY;Ben BARNICOAT;;Porsche 911 RSR – 19;M;LMGTE Am;;;Not classified;93;5:54’55.352;10 Laps;-2 Laps;88;2’19.285;181.0;;

34;28;JOTA;Oliver RASMUSSEN;Edward JONES;Jonathan ABERDEIN;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Not classified;82;5:15’01.826;21 Laps;11 Laps;6;2’08.616;196.0;;

35;34;Inter Europol Competition;Jakub SMIECHOWSKI;Alex BRUNDLE;Esteban GUTIERREZ;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;;;Not classified;52;3:06’45.121;51 Laps;30 Laps;7;2’09.072;195.3;;

36;8;Toyota Gazoo Racing;Sébastien BUEMI;Brendon HARTLEY;Ryo HIRAKAWA;;Toyota GR010 HYBRID;M;HYPERCAR;H;;Not classified;29;1:05’47.905;74 Laps;23 Laps;5;2’05.298;201.2;;

37;44;ARC Bratislava;Miroslav KONOPKA;Tijmen VAN DER HELM;Bent VISCAAL;;Oreca 07 – Gibson;G;LMP2;P/A;;Not classified;25;1:00’13.344;78 Laps;4 Laps;13;2’13.938;188.3;;

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