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Spa Post-Race Notebook

Daniel Lloyd’s post-race notebook from Saturday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Spa…

Photo: Toyota

***Despite several bouts of snowfall causing treacherous conditions, all 34 cars that started the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps made it to the finish.

***After a collision with the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson in the second hour, the ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 Gibson returned to complete a total of 95 laps, which edged it two laps over the 70 percent classification threshold for 34th place.

***The ByKolles team’s recovery was dented by a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for using a new tire which was not a part of its weekend allocation.

***Vitaly Petrov revealed that the third-placed No. 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER ran without fifth gear for the final three hours: “It’s a real pity, because we had a good speed compared to Rebellion [Racing], so we were fighting for second place because the Toyota stopped, and a pity of course because we knew our speed could make the fight for the second place,” he said.

***Meanwhile, Rebellion’s Neel Jani disclosed that the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson, which finished in fifth position, suffered a radio communications cut-out that resulted in the team going on the wrong tire strategy. 

***Gustavo Menezes felt Rebellion made “absolutely the right decision” to switch to its high-downforce aero kit mid-weekend. The No. 3 crew consolidated its third-place in the drivers’ world championship with a second-place finish.

***The mid-race period of dry weather saw WEC race lap records fall in all four classes. Mike Conway beat his own LMP1 record with a time of 1:57.394 in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, while Antonio Felix da Costa’s 2:14.208 effort in the No. 82 Team MTEK BMW M8 GTE is the new GTE-Pro benchmark.

***Pastor Maldonado and Thomas Preining also set new records in the LMP2 and GTE-Am classes, respectively.

***Da Costa and Augusto Farfus missed out on scoring BMW’s third podium of the season when the team was caught out by the fourth and final safety car period. Da Costa was running second ahead of teammate Nicky Catsburg heading into the final hour, but BMW chose to pit both its cars for new tires just before stoppage occurred. This resulted in both losing positions.

***BMW Team MTEK team principal Ernest Knoors told Sportscar365 that the German team is feeling more prepared ahead of its sophomore appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month. “The biggest issue for us [in 2018] – I don’t think we were bad in performance last year – but we suffered with reliability,” he said. “The more miles you put on the car, the better prepared you feel. From that point of view, we know more what to expect.”

***Fernando Alonso said his third-hour spin whilst chasing Kamui Kobayashi for the lead was the result of driver error: “I touched the astroturf, and it definitely was not dry,” said the Toyota driver. “I was luckily not having any consequence with the run-off area, and it was together with a Full Course Yellow, so the combination of everything… I didn’t lose much time.”

***Toyota and Porsche both clinched the respective World Manufacturers and World GT Manufacturers titles for the second time at Spa. Porsche program director Pascal Zurlinden hailed the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ as the “best season” to win the GT award.

***Toyota last won the LMP1 constructors’ crown in 2014, while Porsche’s last title came in 2015 after two seasons of Ferrari winning. 

***The No. 36 Signatech Alpine LMP2 crew extended its 100 percent podium record to seven races with a third-place finish. Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet will head to Le Mans with a slim four-point lead over Jackie Chan DC Racing’s No. 38 crew of Stephane Richelmi, Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry.

***Negrao briefly led the race overall when Signatech chose to keep its Alpine A470 Gibson out on-track during the second safety car period. The Brazilian was quickly caught by Stoffel Vandoorne in the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1, who led before Conway moved the No. 7 Toyota in front with an overtake out of the Bus Stop chicane near the end of the second hour.

***Spirit of Race edged closer to Team Project 1 in the GTE-Am championship stakes, with Egidio Perfetti, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey now holding a 23-point advantage over Giancarlo Fisichella, Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci.

***Dempsey-Proton Racing scored its third consecutive victory in the GTE-Am class and its fifth win in seven races of the 2018-19 season.

***Matt Campbell and Christian Ried are now up to fourth in the category standings despite having their points from the first four races deleted mid-season.

Luke Smith contributed to this report.

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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