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Spa Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from FIA WEC season-opener at Spa-Francorchamps…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***Team orders played a deciding role in Saturday’s Total Six Hours of Spa, with Toyota Gazoo Racing confirming in its post-race press release that it “chose to hold positions” following Fernando Alonso and Mike Conway’s final fuel-only stops with 25 minutes to go in order to “avoid any unnecessary risks” after more than 1,100km of “flat out-racing.”

***Alonso’s No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid had slowed slightly in the final laps after the team instructed the Spaniard to short-shift in order to help reduce rising gearbox temperatures caused by aero degradation. The No. 7 Toyota of Conway, which started the race one lap down from the pit lane due to a post-qualifying infraction, had a ten-second longer final stop compared to Alonso, which was likely aimed to create a buffer after the two were nose-to-tail on track prior to the stops.

***The win marked Alonso’s first at Spa since 2000 in F3000 competition when driving for Astromega.

***ByKolles recorded its best-ever WEC finish in fourth overall, courtesy of the post-race exclusion of the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson due to excessive wear on the skid block. The German squad’s CLM P1/01 NISMO ran strong, despite a brief exhaust fire during its first stop and a five-second stop-and-hold penalty in the second hour for exceeding the maximum amount of fuel allowed per stint.

***The same fuel overuse penalty was also given to both Rebellions, with Neel Jani revealing to Sportscar365 they were having to manually estimate consumption as the team did not have the software the factory LMP1 teams utilize for fuel usage.

***Both the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson and No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE received €5,000 fines post-race for its cars not being in compliance with the homologation and declaration forms. The LMP2 car was found to have had non-compliant seatbelts, with the GTE-Am team having made a “material error” in the declaration form.

***It follows a landmark €250,000 fine handed to Michelin over the weekend for failing to supply tires to the WEC for storage and future redistribution, as part of a new-for-2018 rule aimed to prevent mid-season tire developments. The fine, of which  €50,000 must be paid immediately, is understood to be the largest in WEC history.

***Reigning GTE-Pro champions Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado’s race was virtually over in the fifth hour when the No. 51 Ferrari collided with Egidio Perfetti’s Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR in the pit lane, costing the Ferrari eight laps for repairs. The car had been running fourth in class at the time, after both Ferrari Evos struggled all weekend for pace.

***Harry Tincknell escaped injury following his high-speed shunt at Eau Rouge, which the Englishman said registered at 29Gs. While the cause of the accident is still under investigation, a suspected failure of some kind on the left-front of the No. 67 Ford GT forced the car to veer left and into the barriers.

***Tincknell’s accident brought out the second of three safety car periods, which combined for more than 45 minutes of the race.

***The cause of the accident for the No. 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER of Matevos Isaakyan, which led to the final safety car, is still unclear. The Russian driver suffered a sizable impact with the barriers at the top of Eau Rouge while battling for third overall.

***GTE-Pro class winner Billy Johnson said the safety cars helped “play in our favor” in the race. “Even looking at all the classes, just bunching everyone up is more entertaining for the fans,” the American said. “I think it’s more exciting. I’m happy to see more use of the safety car and hopefully we’ll more of that throughout the season.”

***Loic Duval completed the final stint for the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson having flown over from the first DTM race at Hockenheim on Saturday afternoon. Duval finished 10th for Audi in Germany, before taking a helicopter back to Belgium to complete the final two stints of the crew’s run to fifth in LMP2. The Frenchman then returned to Hockenheim immediately after the checkered flag to prepare for Sunday’s second DTM race.

***Dunlop celebrated its 50th WEC LMP2 class victory on Saturday with the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca of Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola, the team’s third win at Spa in the last four years.

***However, with G-Drive being a single-event entrant, the second-place finishing No. 38 DC Racing crew of  Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi leads the LMP2 drivers’ championship, ahead of Signatech Alpine Matmut’s Nico Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet in second.

***The speed trap figure attained by Egor Orudzhev in the No. 17 SMP BR1 during the race was the fastest-ever recorded during a WEC event outside of Le Mans. Orudzhev clocked in at 204 mph (328.4 km/h) which pipped the previous best set by Timo Bernhard in a Porsche 919 Hybrid at Interlagos in 2014 (203.9 mph/328.3 km/h).

***Building on from the ‘Dane Train’ moniker for the No. 95 car, Aston Martin has named the No. 97 entry the ‘The Lion’ after Aston Martin founder Lionel Martin. The name was inspired by @Vince_Sparrow in a Twitter competition.

***In his first race in his new position, FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille waved the green flag to get the field of 34 cars off the grid for the opening round of the 2018-19 season.

***A number of teams are set to complete final pre-Le Mans tests prior to next month’s Test Day. Porsche GT Team has two more tests planned, one at Monza organized by BMW in two weeks’ time, followed by a shakedown at Spa, which will also see Toyota and ByKolles also in attendance.

Daniel Lloyd 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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