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Toyota 1-2 At Halfway

Fernando Alonso completes first WEC stint as No. 8 Toyota extends lead…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota held sway at the front of the Total Six Hours of Spa, with the TS050 Hybrids running one-two at the halfway point of the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener.

Fernando Alonso pitted the No. 8 Toyota TS050 from the lead having completed 39 laps behind the wheel of the car that started on pole.

The two-time Formula One world champion had a near miss at the start of his stint when he flirted with the grass while passing a mass of GTE traffic, but otherwise enjoyed a clean run.

Alonso handed over to Kazuki Nakajima, who held a 50-second advantage over Kamui Kobayashi in the sister car at halfway.

Nakajima spun exiting Eau Rouge shortly before the timestamp but didn’t appear to incur any damage.

Kobayashi, whose car recovered from starting a lap down from the pit lane for a post-qualifying infringement, overtook both Rebellion Racing R13 Gibsons at the end of hour three.

The Rebellions have run nose-to-tail as the best of the LMP1 non-hybrids, with Beche coming under pressure from Neel Jani in the No. 1 car.

Egor Orudzhev was fifth in the No. 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER, while the ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO ran sixth but off the lead lap.

In LMP2, Jean-Eric Vergne led the class at the midway point in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.

The current ABB FIA Formula E Championship points leader inherited his position when the Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217 Gibson – which surged to the front early on – was forced into its garage with alternator issues.

Ford continued to hassle Porsche in the GTE-Pro lead battle despite the Chip Ganassi Racing squad losing its No. 67 car at the start of hour two through Harry Tincknell’s hefty accident at Eau Rouge.

The No. 66 of Olivier Pla, Stefan Muecke and Billy Johnson was sandwiched between the pair of Porsche 911 RSRs at halfway, having been locked in a close fight since the start.

Richard Lietz took the lead shortly after the safety car resulting from Tincknell’s crash before handing over to Gianmaria Bruni, with Michael Christensen running third.

Aston Martin ran up front in GTE-Am with the two previous-generation Vantages heading the class.

Pedro Lamy led in the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry with Salih Yoluc second in the TF Sport machine, after the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, which was in front early on, lost two laps through a mechanical issue.

Positions after three hours

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


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