Toyota wins epic battle at Silverstone

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The names of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Toyota will be added to the legendary roll of honour on the base of the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy as the Japanese squad won a thrilling 6 Hours of Silverstone to take the lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship title race.

Buemi, who was chasing down the leading Porsche of Brendon Hartley after the last pitstops of the race, was a man on a mission as he quickly closed down the 8 second deficit.  With just 12 minutes left on the clock the Swiss driver dived down the inside of the New Zealander, a move that had the large Silverstone crowd holding their collective breaths.  Once clear, Buemi opened up a six second gap by the chequered flag. 

Porsche were second and third while the no7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 finished 4th in class but 23rd overall after Jose Maria Lopez spun off in the damp conditions and hit the barriers hard at Copse.  The Argentine managed to bring the badly damaged car back to the pits and after a mammoth effort by the Toyota mechanics Mike Conway rejoined the track to bring the car home. The British driver did take away the small consolation of setting a new lap record for LMP1 at Silverstone with a 1m39.656 on lap 4 of the race, beating the previous record by 0.647 seconds.

While Toyota’s Davidson, Nakajima and Buemi lead the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship, Porsche lead the manufacturers championship with 33 points to Toyota’s 26.5 points thanks to their two podium places.

The no67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Andy Priaulx, Pipo Derani and Harry Tincknell took the top spot on the LMGTE Pro podium.  Tincknell took the chequered flag 15 seconds ahead of the no51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, with the no91 Porsche GT Team 911 of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki in third. 

The leading Ford hit problems early on in the race when the right hand gull wing door came open, necessitating an unscheduled trip to the pits.  The same problem reoccurred in the final laps of the race but Tincknell managed to get to the finish line without any problems. 

The no92 Porsche 911 ended its race on lap 96 when smoke was seen coming from the engine bay and Kevin Estre parked up for the marshals to extinguish the small fire.

Ford lead the GT FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship with 38 points to Ferrari’s 28 points, with Porsche and Aston Martin on 16 and 14 points repectively.

In LMP2 it was victory for the no38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson of Ho Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent, Jarvis taking the chequered flag in 4th place overall and 19 seconds ahead of the no31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca of Julien Canal, Nico Prost and Bruno Senna, with the no28 TDS Racing Oreca in third.

The no36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470-Gibson had led for a good portion of the race but dropped back down the field before recovering to finish 4th.

The LMGTE Am class ended with drama on the final lap of the race.  Matt Griffin in the no61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 and Pedro Lamy in the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage were enjoying a door to door tussle for the lead of the class before Griffin had to make a splash and dash for fuel, dropping the Irishman back to third. 

Miguel Molina in the no54 Spirit of Race Ferrari had moved into second and had caught the leading Aston Martin on the final lap.  In a cloud of tyre smoke the pair clashed at Stowe and the surprised Matt Griffin went through to take the chequered flag for his fellow drivers Weng Sun Mok and Keita Sawa and also the team from Singapore on their WEC debut.

The next race will be Round 2 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Saturday 6 May.