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Spa Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from WEC 6H Spa…

Photo: Porsche

Photo: Porsche

***Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima claimed their second consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship victory, largely down to two Full Course Yellows, which cost their Toyota Gazoo Racing team car of Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi more than 50 seconds, due to ill-timed pit stops.

***Davidson admitted they were so “painfully slow” compared to their teammates all weekend. “Right from the word go, the moment we first turned a wheel, we were losing six or seven-tenths every lap,” he told Sportscar365 post-race. “We had much bigger fuel cuts than our sister car. It looked like we were slightly down on power. There’s lots of investigations to do over the next coming days.”

***The Spa win came as redemption for the Toyota trio, who were denied victory last year due to engine issues that took them out of a nearly one-lap lead. The Japanese manufacturer’s sister car retired in that race. Davidson, Buemi and Nakajima have extended their lead in the Drivers’ World Championship to 17 points, with Toyota taking the lead of the Manufacturers’ World Championship, 8.5 points ahead of Porsche.

***Yuji Kunimoto, who made his LMP1 debut on Saturday, struggled in the race, with the reigning Super Formula champion setting a best lap time of 2:00.610, which was more than 2.5 seconds slower than teammate Stephane Sarrazin, who was quickest in the low-downforce-spec No. 9 Toyota.

***Roman Rusinov said his storming opening stint, which saw the newly Gold-rated Russian driver impressively hold off Romain Dumas in the opening hour, was derailed when his tires wore out near the end of the run. Rusinov said it shook up its strategy, and ultimately helped give the TDS Racing run team its first WEC class win in only its second start.

***Tire degradation, related to the new series-mandated limits in LMP1 and GTE-Pro/GTE-Am, played a major factor in the race. GTE-Pro class winner Sam Bird said: “We’ve never seen tires do what they did today in the race. We were a little bit in the unknown and when I was told I’d have to double stint in the end, I was a little bit worried how the tire life would be but we managed it really well.”

***Davide Rigon and Sam Bird claimed their second consecutive GTE-Pro class win at Spa, and first since that race last year, after an eight-race dry spell.

***Bird was locked into a tight inter-team battle between the sister No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE of Alessandro Pier Guidi, as well as Olivier Pla’s No. 66 Ford GT in the second hour, in one of the closest fights seen in the category’s history.  “It was intense,” Bird said. “It’s racing, that’s what fans want to come see; they want to see exciting battles and we gave them that today.”

***The No. 67 Ford GT clawed back from a fuel-priming issue in the second hour to finish fourth in class. Harry Tincknell lost 90 seconds due to the issue, as the Englishman came out of the pits following a scheduled stop. Ford tweeted that the car actually ran out of fuel on its in lap, causing the issue.

***Aston Martin Racing’s Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana scored their third straight class win at Spa and take over the lead of the GTE-Am drivers’ championship heading into the double points-paying round at Le Mans next month.

***ByKolles Racing equaled its best-ever overall finish in WEC competition, with a sixth place overall result for its ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO, in a trouble-free run for drivers James Rossiter, Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer. Incidentally, the German squad’s previous best result, also sixth overall, came at Spa last year,

***Phil Hanson became the youngest-ever driver driver to start a regular-season WEC race, at the age of 17. Hanson and co-drivers Nigel Moore and Karun Chandhok failed to get to the finish after their Tockwith Motorsport Ligier JS P217 Gibson suffered gearbox failure in the final hour. Matt McMurry remains the youngest overall WEC starter at the age of 16, in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.

***Tockwith’s troubles marked another gearbox failure for the Ligier, with the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry having faced similar issues in the Twelve Hours of Sebring, as well as other European teams hitting trouble in testing as well.

***The No. 86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 RSR was the only other retirement in the race, following Nick Foster’s accident in the third hour that brought out one of the race’s two Full Course Yellows.

***Mark Webber has admitted he wasn’t interested in becoming Porsche’s reserve driver for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a position that’s been taken up by fellow ex-LMP1 driver Marc Lieb. “I think I made it pretty clear on my way out. I normally don’t do things half-pregnant and I’m not going to start being half-pregnant now,” the Australian said.

***The reported weekend attendance was 61,000 people, up from last year’s 56,000 for the three-day event.

Vincent Wouters contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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