Toyota Racing continued their winning start to the FIA World Endurance Championship with victory in the second race of the season at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. These early results give the team a great platform and momentum on which to build their campaign to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
Once again British driver Anthony Davidson was on the top step of the podium, bringing home the No8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid in first place with teammates Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi. In securing the win Toyota extended its lead in the manufacturers’ championship, with the No7 car of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima finishing in third place.
The Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi car qualified second on the grid and held the position until Buemi – driving the second stint – claimed the lead following his first pit stop. Davidson brought the Toyota TS040 Hybrid home more than a minute clear of the Audi.
Audi was unfortunate in the season opener with two retirements, however round two produced a clearer picture with Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Tom Kristensen battling to second place. What made the race interesting was the R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrid sports car did not achieve the lap times of the Toyota’s and Porsche which forced Audi towards a different strategy. To save time, Audi Sport Team Joest changed the tires of car #1 only at every second refuelling stop.
Davidson said: “This season is the first time I have ever led a world championship. And to win again here was fantastic. Sébastien did a lot of the hard work in the difficult middle part of the race so when I got in it was pretty much job done. It’s great we got two cars on to the podium again. Now our attention has to turn to the big one in June. I am so confident in the package we have and the team around us; it really feels like we are flourishing at the right time.”
Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen fought a long battle with the #7 Toyota for second place. It was the last pit stop which made all the difference. Duval had to refuel and went back out with a four-second advantage. He successfully defended second place to the finish, with a 6.935-second advantage over the third-placed Toyota.
Lucas di Grassi congratulated his team “A big thank you to the mechanics and the team that prepared two new cars for us before the race. We gave our best today and squeezed out every tiny bit. Today we drove with the WEC aerodynamics, which helped us change the tires only at every second pit stop. Everybody did an outstanding job, but we’re going to have to improve some more in order to be in contention at Le Mans.”
After the round at Spa, the teams will meet again at Le Mans for the test day on June 1. Two weeks later, the season’s pinnacle event is on the agenda – the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14 and 15.
Buemi/Davidson/Lapierre (Toyota) 171 laps in 6h 01m 31.675s
Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) + 1m 13.926s
Nakajima/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) + 1m 20.861s
Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) – 1 lap
Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) – 1 lap
Albuquerque/Bonanomi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) – 2 laps
Beche/Heidfeld/Prost (Rebellion-Toyota) – 10 laps
Canal/Pla/Rusinov (Morgan-Nissan) – 11 laps
Dolan/Gené/Tincknell (Zytek-Nissan) – 11 laps
Bradley/Howson/Imperatori (Oreca-Nissan) – 12 laps