The field sets off at the start of the 6 Hours of Silverstone (photo courtesy of @Toyota_Hybrid twitter page)
The action did not disappoint at the first round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship (WEC). Mixed conditions and mixed fields provided some wild racing.
Heading into the race, many had written off Porsche’s chances in LMP1. The team appeared down on pace at the prologue event as well as in the days leading up to the race at Silverstone. Additionally, Porsche had opted to run a low downforce configuration instead of running a higher downforce setting more suitable for the track. Come race day, Porsche quickly reminded the field why they are reigning champions.
After the Toyota’s galloped to an early lead, rain began to fall and the Porsche’s closed the gap. A problem with the #7 Toyota’s rear anti-roll bar dropped it off the pace and into fourth from the lead.
The #8 Toyota and #2 Porsche began swapping the lead until rain brought in both Porsche’s for intermediate tires. On the better rubber, the Porsche’s began to gap #8 Toyota with the #2 leading.
When the track dried, the #8 Toyota began to wind in the Porsche’s. Eventually, the drying track brought in the Porsche’s for new tires relinquishing the lead to Toyota.
At around the 3 hour 20 minute mark, heavy rain returned. Jose Maria Lopez locked up his tires and the #7 wound up in the tire barrier bringing out a full course caution and safety car, tightening up the field. All class battles were nose to tail.
#7 Toyota into the barrier (video courtesy of the FIA WEC YouTube channel)
After a lengthy caution period, Jose Maria Lopez was able to, miraculously, recover the car and bring it into the garage. The car would return after over an hours worth of repairs to score points that may be critical in the season long championships.
The #8 Toyota pulled out a small lead when the track went green again. Off cycles, the remaining Toyota in contention swapped the lead for hours four and five.
In the sixth and final hour of the race, Toyota pitted with 46 minutes on the clock for 3 scrubbed (used) tires and one critical fresh front left. When the challenging #2 Porsche 919 took it’s final stop, the team opted for a fuel only strategy. The #2 rejoined the field with a twenty second advantage over the #8 Toyota.
At the hands of Sebastian Buemi, the #8 Toyota wound in Brenden Hartley’s #2 Porsche. With rain threatening, a tense battle was engaged for first position with fifteen minutes remaining in the race.
Daftly navigating traffic, Buemi was able to get past Hartley for the race lead with twelve minutes remaining in the race. The #8 and Sebastian Buemi would go on to claim the win for Toyota, getting their 2017 campaign off to a perfect start. The #2 and #1 Porsche’s would make up the rest of the podium in LMP1.
Meanwhile in GTE PRO, Ford held the lead for the majority of the race when the #67 cars door popped open for the second time in the race. Despite the scare, the #67 Ford Ginassi would take the win ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and the #91 Porsche RSR.
In GT AM there was some initial confusion as to the result. The #98 Aston Martin Racing team lead the majority of the race until a late pass by the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferarri on the last lap due to an incident with the #54 Spirit of the Race Ferrari. The #61 Ferrari would inherit the lead and go onto win the class with the #98 AMR taking second.
The LMP2 class was dominated for the majority of the race by the #36 Signatech Alpine car until late in the race. In the last two hours, the #28 TDS Racing, #31 Rebellion, and #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing began to challenge for the lead.
Ultimately, the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing team would claim the win ahead of the #31 Rebellion. The win for the #38 is the first for Jackie Chan with the team bearing his name.
An exciting race and just a few weeks time until the next round at Spa leaves many eagerly anticipating the cars to hit the track again! Follow our Twitter account @ltmsport for continued WEC coverage.