The #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima claimed a hard-fought win in the 6 Hours of Silverstone earlier today. The Toyota Gazoo Racing trio regained the lead with just 12 minutes of the opening round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship remaining and held off the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid to take victory by just 6.1 seconds. The #1 Porsche was a further 40 seconds back in third place.
The LMP2 victory went to the Jackie Chan DC Racing crew of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent in their ORECA-Gibson while the Ford GT of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tinknell and Luis Felipe Derani took the LMGTE Pro win. LMGTE Am went the way of the Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE of Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Matthew Griffin.
The race was punctuated by rain, two Full Course Yellows and one Safety Car period, the Safety Car Period coming after Jose-Maria Lopez crashed the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid at Copse Corner in the fourth hour. The #7 car led at various stages in the opening couple of hours but a shower, which resulted in a damp track, caught out the Argentinian and he slid into the tyre barriers. The car did make it back to the pits and, after a lengthy stop for repairs, returned to the track to eventually be classified fourth.
Porsche were always in with a chance of victory during the afternoon but Toyota proved just too strong. The #8 car, with Buemi at the wheel, emerged from the pits with fresh Michelin rubber with 30 minutes to go and it was only a matter of time before he hunted the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid down.
The Full Course Yellow and Safety Car period played into the hands of the JOTA-Sport run Jackie Chan DC Racing team, taking the LMP2 win by almost 20 seconds from the Vaillante Rebellion crew 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 fell back as the race progressed, eventually having to settle for fourth position behind the TDS Racing ORECA-Gibson driven by Mathieu Vaxivière, Emmanuel Collard and François Perrodo.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing celebrated a famous victory in the LMGTE Pro class as the #67 Ford GT driven by Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Pipo Derani took an ‘against all odds’ win. Problems, a loose door and a deflating tyre, in the early stages of the race looked to have put victory beyond the reach of the #67 trio but they fought back.
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).
The World Endurance Championship returns to the track from 4 to 6 May when the cars head to Belgium for the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.