Toyota was easily the quickest car all weekend, dominating the practice and qualifying sessions. But, the race wasn't all that easy as a damp track, accident, tow full course yellows and a tenacious Porsche team forced Toyota to make a late race charge to capture the win in the World Endurance Championship's opening round at Silverstone.
The pole-sitting No.7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID of Kazuki Nakajima, Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson led in stages during the first two hours but after one of several light showers dampened the circuit. Those damp conditions allowed the Porsche LMP1 team running a high downforce configuration to keep it close.
Brendon Hartley led late in the race in the No.2 919 Porsche Hybrid as the team tried to maximize their low-downforce package. However, Buemi emerged from the pits with fresh Michelins for the final thirty minutes it was only a matter of time before he caught Hartley.
Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber took second position in the No.2 919 Hybrid while Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and André Lotterer claimed third position in their No.1 Porsche.
Toyota's dream weekend went sour when Jose-Maria Lopez crashed his Toyota at Copse Corner. Lopez slid off track and crashed into the tire barriers heavily damaging the car. Lopez, looking shaken,made it back to the pits and the car eventually returned to action to be classified fourth in LMP1. Lopez however, was taken for precautionary checks to the local hospital but was later released.
In LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing's Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung earned the class win. JOTA-Sport run Jackie Chan DC Racing became the first Chinese entered team to win a WEC race when after the team took advantage of the full course yellows and won by almost 20-seconds over the Vaillante Rebellion trio of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal. Reigning champions Signatech Alpine (Nicolas Lapierre, Matt Rao and Gustavo Menezes) led the most laps in class but slipped back and eventually claimed fourth position behind the TDS Racing ORECA-Gibson driven by Mathieu Vaxivière, Emmanuel Collard and François Perrodo.
In GTLM Pro the No.67 Ford GT overcame a loose door and a deflating tire to take the class win. The Ford GT had been the quickest of the LMGTE Pro cars all weekend and both the No.67 and the No.66 cars led for the majority of the race. Harry Tincknell passed the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE for the lead after a mid-race caution period. Tincknell overcame a late race door-opening episode to take the win 15-seconds ahead of the James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi-driven Ferrari.
The No.91 Porsche 911 RSR of Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz made it three different manufacturers in the top three. Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla and Billy Johnson took fourth position, while the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari came home fifth after delays when Sam Bird was penalized for a collision with Matthias Beche’s Vaillante Rebellion.
In GTLM Am Clearwater Racing took a the class win in one of the most dramatic and memorable finishes to any WEC class race. Early in the final hour Clearwater Racing's Matt Griffin had hunted down and overtaken the Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy but then had to stop for a splash of fuel seemingly handing the win to Aston. Clearwater Racing began the last lap of the race in third position but finished first as a collision between the leading No.98 Aston Martin Racing car driven by Pedro Lamy and the No.54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE entry of Miguel Molina allowed Matt Griffin to pass both and win the class.
Lamy and teammates Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda had led the majority of the race but saw their advantage cut by the Safety Car. They eventually recovered from the last lap incident to take second position. Dempsey-Proton Racing took the final podium place in their Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst crewed Porsche 911 RSR.
An estimated 50,200 fans enjoyed the WEC at Silverstone this weekend, and the championship now moves on to Belgium for the second round, the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday May 6th.
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