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Toyota Holds 1-2 at Spa With First Hour Completed

Buemi leads Conway after opening hour, GTE-Pro Porsches collide on opening lap…

Photo: Harry Parvin/WEC

Toyota Gazoo Racing holds the top two positions in the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps after taking the lead from the polesitting No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo of Olivier Pla.

Pla retained the lead by holding off an aggressive challenge from the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, who has remained in second with the No. 7 sister car of Mike Conway in tow.

The two Toyota were also briefly challenged by the polesitting No. 83 AF Corse Oreca 07 Gibson of Alessio Rovera, who got his car alongside at the exit of La Source.

The race remained under green for only a few minutes, as the safety car came out soon thereafter to recover the No. 85 Iron Dames Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Christina Nielsen from the gravel trap at turn one after she was tagged into a spin by Team Project 1’s Brendan Iribe.

Iribe had to serve a drivethrough penalty for the incident.

After the restart, Pla was able to hold off the two Toyotas for the first half hour of the race, before succuming to Buemi at Les Combes to lose the lead before a pass by Conway at turn 19 demoted Glickenhaus to third overall.

Rovera himself then lost ground, as the No. 38 JOTA Oreca of Antonio Felix da Costa captured the lead of the opening lap and Sean Gelael taking second place for Team WRT.

Lorenzo Colombo later took third in class from Rovera aboard the No. 9 Prema Oreca before Rovera handed over to Bronze-rated Francois Perrodo.

The Frenchman has since dropped down with Will Owen fourth for United Autosports and Emmanuel Collard rounding out the top five aboard the No. 5 Team Penske Oreca.

Colombo, meanwhile, closed up the gap to Gelael and took the second place in class at Eau Rouge after a lengthy challenge.

The start in GTE-Pro produced immediate drama between the two factory Porsches, as Kevin Estre locked up aboard the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 and ran wide at La Source.

This resulted in contact with the No. 91 sister car of Gianmaria Bruni, who suffered a left rear tire failure as a result and sits two laps down.

Estre has retained the lead with the No. 64 Corvette C8.R of Nick Tandy in second place.

Tandy passed the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Alessandro Pier Guidi at Les Combes, with the Italian now third in class ahead of teammate Miguel Molina.

Toni Vilander holds the class lead in GTE-Am for AF Corse, having overtaken polesitter Ben Keating within the opening hour to lead.

Keating started the class from pole position but lost the lead on the opening lap to the No. 98 NorthWest AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Paul Dalla Lana before taking it back with a pass around the outside at Pouhon.

Aston Martin then briefly occupied the top three position in class before Spirit of Race’s Gabriel Aubry taking third from the No. 777 D’Station Racing Aston Martin driven by Tomonobu Fujii.

Aubry then made contact with Dalla Lana at turn 19, which sent the Ferrari into a spin.

Dalla Lana was later given a drivethrough penalty for the incident.

In Aubry’s place came the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Toni Vilander, which started last but charged up the field and was into the top five after ten laps.

Vilander then took the lead on lap 16, with Fujii slipping through into second place to demote Keating to third place.

Fujii and Keating both pitted just before the end of the hour, promoting Team Project 1’s Niki Leutwiler temporarily to second and the N0. 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Christian Ried third.

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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