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No. 8 Toyota Takes Spa Lead After Sister Car Problems

Sensor failure pegs back race-leading No. 7 Toyota as 6H Spa hits halfway…

Photo: MPS Agency

Fernando Alonso moved the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid into the lead of the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps at the halfway point after the Japanese marque’s No. 7 car encountered a sensor failure on its hybrid unit.

Kamui Kobayashi had built up a one-minute advantage over Alonso during the third hour but a mechanical issue forced the Toyota Gazoo Racing team to wheel its No. 7 car into the garage.

Alonso handed over to Kazuki Nakajima moments after their sister car encountered its problem, with the Japanese driver inheriting a two-minute advantage over Gustavo Menezes in the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson.

SMP Racing’s No. 11 BR Engineering BR1 AER ran 40 seconds behind the Rebellion at the close of three hours with Vitaly Petrov behind the wheel.

The No. 7 Toyota, which started from pole. emerged from the pits after around 10 minutes of treatment and is now running five laps down on the leader with Jose Maria Lopez behind the wheel.

The No. 7 retained its early lead after a series of safety car and full course yellow periods shuffled the LMP1 order around during an eventful first couple of hours.

Kobayashi’s co-driver Mike Conway led away from pole but allowed Sebastien Buemi past when he overstepped the Bus Stop chicane.

The Toyotas then switched positions again when Buemi made an extra pit stop during a safety car procedure which handed the No. 7 a sizeable advantage for when Kobayashi got in.

The Japanese driver then set about increasing his gap to Alonso, who had an uncharacteristic spin when he touched the damp outside curb at Pouhon, before the hybrid system sensor failure occurred.

In GTE-Pro, Alex Lynn put the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE in front by powering past Davide Rigon’s AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo into Blanchimont.

Rigon held second from Richard Lietz in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR as the race reached halfway, with Alessandro Pier Guidi not far behind in the second Ferrari.

LMP2 is currently being led by Pierre Thiriet in the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson ahead of Ho-Pin Tung in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.

Clearwater Racing’s No. 61 Ferrari took the lead from Team Project 1’s Porsche in the second-hour pit cycle and continues to lead GTE-Am.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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