Fernando Alonso celebrated a winning start to his FIA World Endurance Championship career as he and teammates Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took a conclusive victory at the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Fernando Alonso (TS050 HYBRID #8) said: “I am delighted to get this result. The whole weekend has been amazing in terms of team performance. There have been a lot of preparations with the winter testing and all the work back at the factory but we have to come to the race and deliver the result. We executed the race in the best way we could and I am extremely happy to win my first endurance race. Sébastien and Kazuki made my life a little bit easier so thanks to them.”
In the first race of the 2018-19 WEC Super Season the No.8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car led the vast majority of the race to head home the sister Toyota TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, José María López and Kamui Kobayashi.
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8) said: “We are all happy to begin the season like that. It is the first time for Kazuki and I to race together with Fernando so it was important to start it well. I don’t remember the last time we had so many safety cars in a six-hour race and that meant we lost our advantage a few times. But it all went well in the end so a big thanks to all the team for their hard work. This was just a warm up for Le Mans so we still keep in mind that the next race is the important one.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8) said: “I am very happy to win the first race of the season. It’s particularly nice because my stint started badly; a lot happened and it cost us some time. There was a mistake from my side as well but from then I got back into the rhythm. The triple stint was tricky but I am happy with the job we did. It’s a great start and we will be working hard to make sure we continue like this.”
Alonso crossed the finish line 1.444s ahead of Mike Conway in a formation finish which was made all the more remarkable by the No.7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID starting from the pit lane, a lap behind the entire field, after a post-qualifying technical infringement.
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7) said: “It was weird starting from the pit lane but we knew what we had to do. We had some help from the safety car periods and the full course yellows, which went our way and helped us to get into the fight with the other LMP1 ones. Kamui and José did a great job again today. It’s disappointing not to win but a one-two is the perfect result for the team.”
For Alonso it was his first victory at Spa for almost 18 years and he became the first Spaniard to win a WEC race since Marc Gené triumphed for Audi, also at Spa, in 2012.
Rounding out the podium was the No.1 Rebellion Racing crew of André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna in their first race with the new non-hybrid Rebellion R13-Gibson. However the No.1 was later disqualified and third place went to the No.13 Rebellion of Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Mathias Beche. The ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01-Nismo took a best ever forth position.
Neel Jani, driver #1 said: "Congrats to the whole team, they had a hard winter and a tight schedule to get both cars ready for the first race! But we achieved first goal with getting both cars to the finishline! P3 was always the max. We could achieve and so we did! The DSQ was unfortunate but rule is rule and we have to accept losing this podium but I am happy our sister car is on the podium instead! We had very little running before the first race so this race was a bit of a test for us! We are happy despite the DSQ but we also know that we have a lot of work to do for Le Mans, especially if we want to get closer to the Toyota cars."
LMP2 saw G-Drive Racing claimed back-to-back Spa wins following their victory in 2017. Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola triumphed after they took control of the race in the second hour.
As G-Drive Racing is not a full-season entrant, the second-placed No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07-Gibson of Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stéphane Richelmi claimed the maximum points score.
The 2016 WEC champions Signatech Alpine Matmut took second position points to add to the one claimed for pole position.
Ford celebrated the first LMGTE Pro win of the WEC Super Season. Olivier Pla, Stefan Mücke and Billy Johnson claimed their first WEC victory after a race-long battle with the No.91 Porsche 911 RSR of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz.
The race was effectively won with just 45-minutes to go when Pla was able to execute an audacious overtake on Richard Lietz exiting Raidillon. The No.91 Porsche fell back in the closing stages to fourth place as the sister car No.92 Porsche claimed second and then Davide Rigon swept through to take the final podium position in the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
The No.67 Ford driven by Harry Tincknell crashed spectacularly in the second hour causing the second of three Safety Car periods. The British driver thankfully emerged from the Ford GT uninjured.
BMW made a promising debut at Spa as Antonio Felix da Costa and Tom Blomqvist finished in fifth position to claim useful championship points with the new BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE.
A thrilling LMGTE Am category saw reigning champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda took a record fourth consecutive win at Spa.
The No.98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 had a comfortable lead but saw that eroded in the final hour when a Safety Car was deployed. Lamy was forced into a defensive final stint as Euan Hankey in the TF Sport Aston Martin applied significant pressure. Just 0.2s covered the pair as they crossed the finishing line.
Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin ensured Clearwater Racing Ferrari took third position as they begin their second season in the WEC.
LMP1 Fastest Lap by CONWAY Mike: 1:57.442 (Lap 7, 214.7 Kph)
1 Toyota Gazoo Racing8 S. BUEMI / K. NAKAJIMA / F. ALONSO Toyota TS050 - Hybrid LMP1 H M 163 6:00:50.702 9 7 1:57.805 214.0
2 Toyota Gazoo Racing7 M. CONWAY / K. KOBAYASHI / J. LOPEZ Toyota TS050 - Hybrid LMP1 H M 163 1.444 1.444 6:00:52.146 8 7 1:57.442 214.7
3 Rebellion Racing3 M. BECHE / T. LAURENT / G. MENEZES Rebellion R13 - Gibson LMP1 M 161 2 Laps 2 Laps 6:02:02.819 9 43 1:58.820 212.2
6:00:57.850 15 2:01.768 207.1 ENSO CLM P1/01 - Nismo 4 Bykolles Racing Team4 O. WEBB / D. KRAIHAMER / T. DILLMANN LMP1 M 158 5 Laps 3 Laps 10
5 SMP Racing11 M. ALESHIN / V. PETROV BR Engineering BR1 - AER LMP1 M 158 5 Laps 6:02:51.978 1:54.128 10 114 2:01.991 206.7
SMP Racing17 S. SARRAZIN / E. ORUDZHEV / M. ISAAKYAN BR Engineering BR1 - AER LMP1 M 132 10 4:54:16.946 56 1:59.547 210.9
Rebellion Racing1 N. JANI / A. LOTTERER / B. SENNA Rebellion R13 - Gibson LMP1 M 161 9
LMP2 Fastest Lap by VAXIVIERE Matthieu: 2:05.324 (Lap 71, 201.2 Kph)
1 G-Drive Racing26 R. RUSINOV / J. VERGNE / A. PIZZITOLA Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 D 156 6:01:05.972 8 41 2:05.605 200.7
2 Jackie Chan DC Racing38 H. TUNG / G. AUBRY / S. RICHELMI Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 D 156 21.714 21.714 6:01:27.686 8 8 2:06.276 199.7
3 Signatech Alpine Matmut36 N. LAPIERRE / A. NEGRÃO / P. THIRIET Alpine A470 - Gibson LMP2 D 156 55.737 34.023 6:02:01.709 9 115 2:06.491 199.3
4 Jackie Chan DC Racing37 J. JAAFAR / W. TAN / N. JEFFRI Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 D 155 1 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:09.927 8 95 2:05.523 200.9
5 TDS Racing28 F. PERRODO / M. VAXIVIERE / L. DUVAL Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 D 155 1 Laps 11.176 6:01:21.103 8 71 2:05.324 201.2
6 DragonSpeed31 R. GONZALEZ / P. MALDONADO / N. BERTHON Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 M 155 1 Laps 3.170 6:01:24.273 9 8 2:05.585 200.8
7 Larbre Competition50 E. CREED / R. RICCI / J. CANAL Ligier JSP217 - Gibson LMP2 M 152 4 Laps 3 Laps 6:02:52.750 12 40 2:06.479 199.4
8 Racing Team Nederland29 F. VAN EERD / G. VAN DER GARDE / J. LAMMERS Dallara P217 Gibson LMP2 M 139 17 Laps 13 Laps 6:02:49.938 8 8 2:05.413 201.0
LMGTE Pro Fastest Lap by BRUNI Gianmaria: 2:15.667 (Lap 52, 185.9 Kph)
1 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK S. MÜCKE / O. PLA / B. JOHNSON Ford GT LMGTE Pro M 148 6:02:42.936 5 4 2:15.944 185.5
2 Porsche GT Team92 M. CHRISTENSEN / K. ESTRE Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro M 148 13.931 13.931 6:02:56.867 6 6 2:15.921 185.5
3 AF Corse71 D. RIGON / S. BIRD Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE Pro M 147 1 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:08.069 6 5 2:16.834 184.3
4 Porsche GT Team91 R. LIETZ / G. BRUNI Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro M 147 1 Laps 3.379 6:01:11.448 5 52 2:15.667 185.9
5 BMW Team MTEK82 T. BLOMQVIST / A. DA COSTA BMW M8 GTE LMGTE Pro M 146 2 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:00.174 5 43 2:17.120 183.9
6 Aston Martin Vantage AMR 6 Aston Martin Racing97 A. LYNN / M. MARTIN / J. ADAM LMGTE Pro M 146 2 Laps 11.763 5 6:01:11.937 5 2:17.988 182.7
7 Aston Martin Vantage AMR 7 Aston Martin Racing95 M. SØRENSEN / N. THIIM / D. TURNER LMGTE Pro M 146 2 Laps 49.225 6 6:02:01.162 6 2:18.105 182.6
8 BMW Team MTEK81 M. TOMCZYK / N. CATSBURG BMW M8 GTE LMGTE Pro M 145 3 Laps 1 Laps 6:02:07.143 6 5 2:17.747 183.0
9 AF Corse51 A. PIER GUIDI / J. CALADO Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE Pro M 139 9 Laps 6 Laps 6:01:15.428 5 51 2:16.817 184.3
67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK A. PRIAULX / H. TINCKNELL / T. KANAAN Ford GT LMGTE Pro M 26 1 1:02:06.857 6 2:15.795 185.7
LMGTE Am Fastest Lap by CAIROLI Matteo: 2:17.069 (Lap 122, 184.0 Kph)
1 Aston Martin Racing98 P. DALLA LANA / P. LAMY / M. LAUDA Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE Am M 144 6:01:22.580 5 51 2:17.591 183.3
2 TF Sport90 S. YOLUC / E. ALERS-HANKEY / C. EASTWOOD Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE Am M 144 0.221 0.221 6:01:22.801 5 125 2:17.516 183.4
3 Clearwater Racing61 W. MOK / K. SAWA / M. GRIFFIN Ferrari F488 GTE LMGTE Am M 143 1 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:40.138 5 124 2:18.254 182.4
4 Dempsey - Proton Racing77 C. RIED / J. ANDLAUER / M. CAMPBELL Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am M 142 2 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:26.797 5 41 2:17.815 183.0
5 MR Racing70 M. ISHIKAWA / O. BERETTA / E. CHEEVER Ferrari F488 GTE LMGTE Am M 142 2 Laps 24.989 6:01:51.786 5 123 2:18.921 181.5
6 Dempsey - Proton Racing88 K. AL QUBAISI / G. RODA / M. CAIROLI Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am M 141 3 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:51.688 6 122 2:17.069 184.0
7 Gulf Racing UK86 M. WAINWRIGHT / B. BARKER / A. DAVISON Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am M 137 7 Laps 4 Laps 6:01:08.841 7 73 2:18.420 182.2
8 Spirit of Race54 T. FLOHR / F. CASTELLACCI / G. FISICHELLA Ferrari F488 GTE LMGTE Am M 136 8 Laps 1 Laps 6:01:32.659 8 65 2:18.153 182.5
9 Team Project 156 J. BERGMEISTER / P. LINDSEY / E. PERFETTI Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am M 131 13 Laps 5 Laps 6:01:56.623 5 51 2:18.078 182.6
Circuit Best Laps by Class
LMP1 Stéphane SARRAZIN 221.8 Kph 05/05/2017 1:53.658
LMP2 Jean-Eric VERGNE 208.5 Kph 05/05/2017 2:00.945
LMGTE Pro Olivier PLA 190.4 Kph 04/05/2018 2:12.420
LMGTE Am Matteo CAIROLI 187.1 Kph 04/05/2018 2:14.766
Circuit Race Records by Class
LMP1 Mike CONWAY 1:57.442 214.7 Kph05/05/2018
LMP2 Matthieu VAXIVIERE 2:05.324 201.2 Kph05/05/2018
LMGTE Pro Gianmaria BRUNI 2:15.667 185.9 Kph05/05/2018
LMGTE Am Matteo CAIROLI 2:17.069 184.0 Kph05/05/2018