Silverstone WEC: Toyota survives rain scare to take 1-2

Toyota dominated a rain-hit opening round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season at Silverstone, as Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi took victory in the #7 car.

Silverstone WEC: Toyota survives rain scare to take 1-2

Both of the Japanese manufacturer's TS050 Hybrids finished a lap clear of the field in the four-hour contest, with the #7 crew leading home the sister #8 car shared by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and team newcomer Brendon Hartley by just under two seconds.

The two Toyotas swapped the lead multiple times throughout, with the first on-track move coming when Kobayashi passed Hartley just shy of the halfway mark on track after a rain shower.

Hartley repassed Kobayashi just before the penultimate round of stops, but the #7 was back ahead when Nakajima pitted to hand over the #8 car to Hartley, a lap before Kobayashi made way for Lopez in the sister car.

Lopez then built a buffer of some 10s in the latter stages, although Nakajima reduced that to less than half a second in the final half-hour before dutifully completing a 1-2.

Rebellion's #3 crew of Loic Duval, Pipo Derani and Nathanael Berthon completed the podium despite picking up two penalties for technical infringements, although the Swiss squad did enjoy two spells in the lead.

The first of these came after an early full-course yellow period triggered by the #6 Ginetta shedding its right-rear wheel. Both Toyotas pitted a lap later than the Rebellions, just as the FCY ended, allowing both Rebellions through into a short-lived 1-2.

The arrival of rain midway through the second hour shuffled the order again, as the Toyotas initially tried to brave it on slicks while the Rebellions both came in to change to wets.

At one stage the Toyotas were losing 15 seconds per lap to the Rebellions, and although the Japanese cars were able to take on wets without losing the lead, a subsequent safety car period - a result of a coming-together between Oliver Jarvis in the #6 Ginetta and Miguel Molina in the #71 Ferrari at Becketts - closed the pack up again.

The #3 Rebellion jumped back into the lead by coming in for slicks a lap earlier, but once again was powerless to prevent the Toyotas from getting by at the following restart.

Derani had already fallen some 20s down when the #3 car was given a stop-and-go penalty for a fuel flow infringement, before it was hit with another stop-and-go for the same offence in the final half hour.

Rebellion's #1 car, shared by Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato, had already been ruled out a podium by a slow three-minute stop, the result of Nato knocking over his mechanics, but was set to finish fourth before a late five-minute visit to the garage to fix a power steering problem dropped it to fifth in LMP1 behind the lead Ginetta.

Charlie Robertson, Egor Orudzhev and Ben Hanley enjoyed a largely smooth run in the best of the AER-powered G60-LT-P1s, albeit delayed by an off for Hanley on his out-lap at Luffield, narrowly overcoming the best of the LMP2 cars for fourth overall, four laps down.

The #6 Ginetta, which had already made multiple trips to the garage after losing its wheel early on, continued after Jarvis's incident and finished 17 laps down.

LMP2: Cool Racing wins on WEC debut

Victory in LMP2 and fifth overall went to newcomer outfit Cool Racing, whose #42 Oreca 07 was shared only by Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga after Alexandre Coigny withdrew following a crash in Saturday's European Le Mans Series race.

Job van Uitert had built a sizeable advantage just shy of the halfway point in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca, but the second safety car period allowed the Cool Racing car to close right in, shortly after which Lapierre passed for the lead.

The TDS-run RTN car then faded when Frits van Eerd took over from van Uitert for the final hour, and in the end the Dutch gentleman driver was pipped to second by Toyota LMP1 reserve driver Thomas Laurent in the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca.

Laurent, Andre Negrao and Pierre Ragues ended up 49 seconds down on the class-winning Cool Racing car, and two seconds clear of the RTN Oreca shared by van Eerd, van Uitert and Giedo van der Garde, who completed an all-Michelin podium in LMP2.

Best of the Goodyear runners was the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca in fourth, while United Autosports' WEC debut ended after just a handful of minutes after a suspected electrical issue left Paul di Resta stranded on track.

GTE: Porsche 1-2 with all-new car

Porsche's brand new 911 RSR-19 took victory in its first-ever race outing, as Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz led reigning class champions Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre in a 1-2 finish for the Weissach marque in the GTE Pro class.

Both Porsche crews gained considerable time over their opponents in the wet middle phase of the race, but their advantage was lost in the second safety car period, allowing the sole surviving #51 Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi back into contention after an early puncture appeared to ruin its chances.

Pier Guidi picked off both Porsches to retake the lead after the restart, only to fall behind in the next pitstop cycle, and was challenging Christensen again when he served a drive-through penalty for overtaking under the safety car.

That meant the lead Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin was able to take the final podium spot, while Pier Guidi and Calado had to be content with fourth.

Ferrari did however take honours in GTE Am, with class returnee Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and WEC rookie Nicklas Nielsen taking the win in the #83 AF Corse Ferrari.

The trio finished a lap ahead of the works Aston Martin shared by Paul Dalla Lana, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn, while the MR Racing Ferrari of Motoaki Ishikawa, Kei Cozzolino and Olivier Beretta rounded out the class podium.

Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Laps Time
1 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 129 4:00'57.709
2 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 129 4:00'59.610
3 3 France Nathanael Berthon
Brazil Pipo Derani
France Loic Duval
Rebellion R13 LMP1 128 4:02'35.108
4 5 United Kingdom Charles Robertson
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Russian Federation Egor Orudzhev
Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LMP1 124 4:01'20.815
5 42 France Nicolas Lapierre
Switzerland Antonin Borga
Switzerland Alexandre Coigny
Oreca 07 LMP2 124 4:01'22.238
6 36 France Thomas Laurent
Brazil Andre Negrao
France Pierre Ragues
Alpine A470 LMP2 124 4:02'11.549
7 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
Oreca 07 LMP2 124 4:02'13.971
8 37 China Ho-Pin Tung
France Gabriel Aubry
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 124 4:02'21.210
9 38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 124 4:02'21.695
10 1 Brazil Bruno Senna
United States Gustavo Menezes
France Norman Nato
Rebellion R13 LMP1 123 4:02'12.702
11 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Andrea Belicchi
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Dallara P217 LMP2 122 4:01'19.970
12 33 United States Mark Patterson
Japan Kenta Yamashita
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Oreca 07 LMP2 122 4:02'14.610
13 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 115 4:01'15.704
14 92 Denmark Michael Christensen
France Kevin Estre
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 115 4:01'19.506
15 97 United Kingdom Alex Lynn
Belgium Maxime Martin
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 115 4:01'21.990
16 51 United Kingdom James Calado
Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 115 4:01'31.758
17 95 Denmark Marco Sorensen
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 114 4:01'29.20
18 83 France François Perrodo
France Emmanuel Collard
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 114 4:02'44.660
19 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
United Kingdom Darren Turner
United Kingdom Ross Gunn
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 113 4:01'08.923
20 70 Japan Motoaki Ishikawa
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Japan Kei Cozzolino
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 113 4:01'19.885
21 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 113 4:01'24.669
22 77 Germany Christian Ried
Australia Matt Campbell
Italy Riccardo Pera
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 113 4:01'32.278
23 56 Norway Egidio Perfetti
Germany David Kolkmann
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 113 4:01'41.570
24 90 Turkey Salih Yoluc
Ireland Charles Eastwood
United Kingdom Jonathan Adam
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 113 4:02'09.221
25 62 United Kingdom Bonamy Grimes
United Kingdom Johnny Mowlem
United Kingdom Charles Hollings
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 113 4:02'24.380
26 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 113 4:02'43.473
27 57 United States Ben Keating
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 112 4:00'59.253
28 6 United Kingdom Michael Simpson
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
United Kingdom Guy Smith
Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LMP1 112 4:01'35.831
29 88 Austria Thomas Preining
Italy Gianluca Giraudi
Mexico Ricardo Sanchez
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 111 4:02'00.671
71 Italy Davide Rigon
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 54 1:54'41.638
22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Oreca 07 LMP2 2 3'52.039
Toyota: Rebellion has pace to win at Silverstone

Previous article

Toyota: Rebellion has pace to win at Silverstone

Next article

Nato's "stupid mistake" hospitalises Rebellion mechanic

Nato's "stupid mistake" hospitalises Rebellion mechanic
Load comments
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear Prime

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.

Jun 14, 2021
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

May 4, 2021
What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era Prime

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

A slim field of three cars will be entered in the Hypercar class for the first round of the World Endurance Championship's post-LMP1 age. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism with the new wave of manufacturer entries and competing class philosophies just around the corner

Apr 29, 2021
How Aston Martin scaled new heights in the Prodrive era Prime

How Aston Martin scaled new heights in the Prodrive era

The 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship kicks off at Spa this weekend, but for the first time since its 2012 inception there will be no factory-run Aston Martins in the GTE Pro class. That's especially notable because as a works entity, the Prodrive era of Aston Martin Racing that began in 2005 has been a success from the very start.

Apr 27, 2021
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Prime

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

Mar 16, 2021
How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy Prime

How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy

Ferrari's planned return to the top category at the Le Mans 24 Hours has further heightened anticipation for the 2023 race. Few concrete details are currently known, but already it has a high-profile superstar angling for involvement, which would make a refreshing change

Mar 5, 2021