Toyota Takes Hard-Fought Win at Silverstone

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Toyota Gazoo Racing has taken a hard-fought victory in Sunday’s rain-affected Six Hours of Silverstone, following an unexpected late-race strategic duel with Porsche in a dramatic FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener.

Sebastien Buemi drove his No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to a 6.173-second win over the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley, after a final fuel-only stop for Hartley that put the 2015 World Champion out front.

The Kiwi, however, lost the lead with 12 minutes remaining, to a hard-charging Buemi, in damp conditions, who made an inside move on the Porsche at The Loop to edge ahead and claim and he and Anthony Davidson’s first win since Fuji 2014.

Buemi and Davidson shared top honors with Kazuki Nakajima, marking the first victory for the drivers as a trio.

While Toyota, with its high-downforce package, headed into the race as favorites, it was anything but clear sailing for the Japanese manufacturer, which got caught out during the first two waves of rain showers.

The No. 1 Porsche of Nick Tandy took over the lead in the third hour during the initial rain, but lost out by having to make an additional stop to switch back from Michelin intermediates to slicks when conditions improved.

Tandy and co-drivers Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer, in his Porsche LMP1 debut, came home third, 40 seconds behind the sister entry, driven by Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber.

While ultimately losing out during the brief shower in the third hour, when the Toyotas remained on slicks and Porsches went to intermediates, the German manufacturer gained time in the pits, and were often 3-4 seconds quicker per stop, which also helped close the gap.

A heavy crash by Jose Maria Lopez in damp conditions with two-and-a-half hours to go knocked the No. 7 Toyota out of contention, after a suspected rear anti-roll bar issue and subsequent trip through the gravel by Kamui Kobayashi. 

Lopez limped the heavily damaged car back to the pits, but was transported to a local hospital for precautionary scans. The incident brought out the race’s only safety car period.

The car, meanwhile, returned to action more than one hour of repairs to score fourth place points in LMP1, completing more laps than the No. 4 ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO, which retired late due to an accident with the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8.

Jackie Chan DC Racing scored top honors in LMP2, in the team’s debut with Jota Sport.

Oliver Jarvis took the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson to a 19.376-second class win over the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca of Nico Prost in second.

The Chinese-backed team held control of the race in the closing hour, retaining the lead following its final stop with 22 minutes to go.

It marked the first class victory for ex-Audi LMP1 factory driver Jarvis and co-drivers Ho-Pin Tung and 19-year-old Frenchman Thomas Laurent.

A late-race charge by Matthieu Vaxiviere, who climbed aboard the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca on its final stop with 22 minutes to go, nearly saw the Frenchman get by Prost for second in class.

The No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 Gibson came home fourth in class after dominating the first half of the race with Nico Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes at the wheel.

RESULTS: 6H Silverstone

15 Comments

  1. Tyler Sanders

    April 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Surprised the Porsche’s had pace like that with the lower down force setup. After Toyota ran away with qualifying

  2. JB

    April 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Awesome job by the Toyota crew rebuilding the #7 and getting it back on track.

  3. therandomguy

    April 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Not as exciting nor as dramatic as the ELMS race but still enjoyed it.

    Got to be concerned by the lacking pace of Bykolles Racing Team against the new LMP2 cars.

    • Luc

      April 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      ByKolles is a joke! Albeit a bad one. Don’t know what their idea is on competing in this series. I’ve read somewhere that they only participate in Europe. I think I know why Kubica decided against competing.

      On another note; cracking end to the race.

  4. EO

    April 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Did anyone else notice that while at the pit stops, the Porsche guys were washing the back half of the left front fender, while also washing the windshield? I’m guessing so the driver can visually inspect the tire?

    • AudiFan

      April 16, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      The side view mirrors are in that spot, behind the fender and covered by glass. They would’ve been cleaning that.

  5. Antonio Miles

    April 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    I was thinking that about ByKolles too. They really need to step it up. They barely had any pace against the new LMP2 Orecas. That NISMO LMP1 engine just doesn’t have enough grunt, as well as the chassis being horribly outdated. Probably, if maybe, it would’ve made a difference if they chose another engine.

    • GR88

      April 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      The Nissan engine is a great piece of kit, cutting edge P1 technology, built by Cosworth. Pretty clear the weak link in the ByKolles is the chassis, that’s where they’re losing time.

      • Mike Dincolo

        April 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

        Yeah great piece of kit, qualifying near the back of the LMP2 field in 2015…

        • GR88

          April 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

          Did you not read what I posted? Chassis and engine are two very different components.

          The Nissan V6TT is light, compact, powerful and fuel efficient. This was reflected in it topping the speed traps regularly this weekend.

          The ByKolles was visibly slower in the twisty stuff and struggled under braking.

          • Mike Dincolo

            April 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

            Yeah, I know chassis and engine are different. Sure the engine is powerful, but unreliable. I’m talking about Le Mans 2015 where LMP2 cars were able to keep up with it. Now 2017 with Bykolles using it, they’re not doing much better.

    • SH

      April 17, 2017 at 8:25 am

      It will be better if they’ve picked the Judd v10

      • GR88

        April 17, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        The Nissan is based on a Cosworth F1 design from 2013/14. The Judd V10’s heritage dates back to the mid-late 90’s.

  6. Olly

    April 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    What caused Signatech to go down a lap?

  7. Laird Sasser

    April 18, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Ho hum….who’ll be next to attempt second-guessing Porsche’s behind the scenes race strategy?

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