UPDATE: The 1-2 finishing Toyotas have been excluded from the Silverstone results. For more, click here.
For the third time in the as many races in the 2018/19 WEC season, it was Toyota’s day. The Japanese team earned its third consecutive 1-2 WEC finish today with a comfortable, dominant win, its pair of TS050 HYBRIDs again untouchable, crossing the line four laps ahead of the nearest privateer runner.
When all was said and done, the No. 8 of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi earned its third win in a row. Heading into the final hour it looked like the sister No. 7 car of Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi would take its first victory of the season and lead home the formation finish, but an issue with the car’s floor left Kobayashi with no option but to relinquish the position to Buemi, who took the checkered flag in the winning car.
Despite Toyota having no real competition, there was still plenty of scrapping between the two TS050s during the six hours, with both cars running together on track for most of the race, jostling for the lead. It was no grandstand finish though, and at the end, the No. 8 finished 19 seconds ahead of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez’s challenger.
“It was a nice battle with the sister car, we had to push all the way through. I think it’s been a fun day for us. It’s been amazing to work with this team. It was perfect execution again.
“It was a close race, it seems that we were struggling at the beginning or the stints, the No. 7 was killing us, but in the end it was close racing. Three for three!” Alonso said .
“Next is our home race, we need to keep it up when we race there,” added Nakajima.
EoT is the story du jour once again in LMP1. Despite a change heading into the weekend to speed up the privateers — and the organizers quietly removing the lap limit for each stint — it was no contest. If the aim is to ensure that privateer teams have a real chance of taking the fight to the Toyotas, then another re-think is required.
In fairness, the new non-hybrid cars need to find true reliability as well as pace, because behind there was plenty of intrigue in the privateer ranks. But it was ultimately a race of attrition, and Rebellion Racing emerged victorious on this occasion.
The No. 1 R-13 looked certain to lead the No. 3 home for the first time this year, but the team was forced to change the No. 1’s rear clip at its final stop, dropping it off the podium, allowing Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche to finish best of the rest again.
This was a comfortable ‘Privateer’ win for Rebellion, the late swap aside, as both cars ran a steady race after they were involved in chaos at Turn 1 at the start – where the No. 3 and the No. 17 SMP BR1 came together.
Both SMP Racing BR1s provided the Anglo-Swiss outfit’s biggest threat, but the No. 11 retired in the opening hour with an engine failure (before hometown hero Jenson Button was able to drive in front of his home fans) and the No. 17 faded away late in the race and finished fifth.
Elsewhere in the class, ByKolles’ CLM failed to finish after an accident at the start of a full-course yellow period, and the DragonSpeed BR1 finished 32 laps down after a multitude of issues throughout the race.
LMP2 was rather uneventful in racing terms, but it was nevertheless a very impressive performance from Jackie Chan DC Racing, which scored a dominant 1-2 finish, the No. 38 of Stephane Richelmi, Gabriel Aubry and Ho Pin Tung taking its second win of 2018 after an inter-team fight for much of the final three hours that left the all-Malaysian sister crew forced to settle for second.
It was notable in this instance, that JCDC scored such a comfortable formation finish, as neither car had a clean run. The No. 37 suffered a puncture, and the No. 38 had to serve a drive-through for a jump start, and lost further time due to an ill-timed safety car period late in the race.
Behind, the championship-leading, Le Mans-winning Signatech Alpine finished third, the team struggling for pace for almost the entire six hours, Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao slowly falling back and finishing a lap down. Completing the top five in the class was the No. 31 DragonSpeed ORECA which endured a real slog of a race, with contact, penalties and mechanical issues leaving the team three laps down in the end. Racing Team Nederland finished fifth, after Giedo Van Der Garde showed the car’s potential – as he did at Spa – running second in the opening stint of the race.