Rain, hail and snow can’t stop No. 8 Toyota at Spa

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Rain, hail and snow can’t stop No. 8 Toyota at Spa

Le Mans/WEC

Rain, hail and snow can’t stop No. 8 Toyota at Spa

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Third in the classification was originally the No. 91 Porsche. However, the car dropped to eighth after it was handed a penalty for causing a collision just before the red flag came out. With the team unable to react to it before the field was neutralized, the organizers handed it a post-race time penalty.

That promoted the No. 92 Porsche to third, and the No. 82 MTEK BMW to fourth, putting Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen on the brink of the World Drivers’ title.

It was a strange race for BMW, and Ford. The MTEK M8 GTEs spent the race rising and falling down the order, clawing their way back into contention in the final hour. With the future of BMW’s WEC program believed to be in question, will MTEK’s determination in Belgium, fighting hard with a car that often wasn’t quickest, make a difference in the final decision from the board?

Ford, which is also going through a similar situation with its future in the WEC believed to be in doubt, was the only brand that really was unable to stay in the fight. After taking pole yesterday, the GTs didn’t have the raw pace in the poor conditions. A drive-through for the No. 67 and a gamble on tires for the No. 66 also proved costly, with the former finishing fifth, and the latter 10th. 

Nicki Thiim, who along with Marco Sorensen had a wild race, battling for podium spots on multiple occasions, surviving multiple collisions, finished a disappointing seventh in the No. 95 Aston Martin. The Dane summarized the race perfectly: “It was goddamn rock and roll out there!”

LMP2 was also a real lottery. US-flagged team DragonSpeed, which now shifts its focus to its maiden Indy 500 run, won the class for the first time this season.

Pastor Maldonado, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez had to beat out G-Drive Racing’s Aurus and Signatech’s Alpine A470 to win, after the car vaulted to the lead in the final hour. Despite a late question mark hanging over the team’s win, as Gonzalez was just over a minute short on drive time, the red flag saved it from having to pit right at the end. G-Drive Racing also looked to have to pit at the end too, for fuel, but was ‘saved by the bell’.

For much of the second half of the race, it looked like LMP2 points leaders Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao would be fighting their rivals in the standings in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA for the win. But a third-place finish was all they could muster.

Crucially though, by finishing ahead of Stephane Richelmi, Ho Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry in the No. 38 (who came home fourth), they extend their points lead marginally ahead of Le Mans.

Dempsey Proton’s habit of coming out of nowhere to win GTE Am convincingly continued in the hotly-contested Am class.

The No. 77 Porsche, which surely would have romped its way to the title had it not had its all points taken away by the organisers halfway through the season, won again. Christian Ried, Matt Campbell and Riccardo Pera finished five seconds clear of the TF Sport Aston Martin.

Once again TF Sport came close to winning the class at Spa, but not close enough. However, Euan Hankey, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood did all have a superb run and will be confident in their chances of a strong result at Le Mans.

The big story from the class though came from two cars that finished behind Clearwater’s Ferrari which completed the podium.

Spirit of Race and Project 1, who are locked in a battle at the top of the GTE Am title race, finished up fourth and fifth respectively, after drama in the closing stages. The Spirit of Race Ferrari, which is the chaser in the points, was spun at the Bus Stop by the No. 91 Porsche, dropping Giancarlo Fisichella behind the Project 1 machine.

Moments later though, Egidio Perfetti in Project 1’s 911 came into contact with the Clearwater Ferrari at Piff Paff, sending the Norwegian into the barriers. He did continue but finished behind the Ferrari, closing the points gap ahead of the finale to 23 points!

The top five cars are still mathematically in with a shout too, the TF Sport Aston, the No. 77 Proton Porsche and No. 98 Aston Martin all still in the hunt.

Next up on the calendar is the final race of the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’, at Le Mans, next month. And there’s still so much to play for.

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