Toyota finish 1-2 in rain-shortened Silverstone race
Toyota Racing celebrated a 1-2 finish in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic British endurance racing fans, with 43,000 having visited Silverstone over the weekend.
Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi were deserving winners of the Royal Automobile Club’s magnificent Tourist Trophy in a rain-shortened opening round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Toyota Racing drivers led for more than three-quarters of the race and were in a commanding position in the No.8 TS040 Hybrid when the rain began to fall more and more heavily over the Silverstone Circuit. With conditions becoming potentially dangerous on track due to the amount of standing water, the Race Director took the decision to red flag the event 38 minutes before the scheduled finish. The No.7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of team mates Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima finished in second place, one lap down to their team mates, and the No.20 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley celebrated the team’s return to top line competition with a podium finish.
The early part of the race heralded the start of what promises to be a drama-filled and action-packed 2014 season. After all three manufacturers made a solid start to the race, in the tricky damp/dry/wet weather conditions which prevailed, the race promised to thrill the fans and competitors alike. Very unusually, both of Audi’s R18 e-tron quattros failed to finish the race; Lucas di Grassi in the No. 1 and Benoit Tréluyer in the No.2 both suffered from off track excursions which put them out of the race, the latter causing the only Safety Car period of the race while the Audi was retrieved. The No.14 Porsche 919 Hybrid was also a casualty due to a hydraulic problem.
The Swiss Rebellion Racing team had a race of mixed fortunes in the LMP1-L category for Privateer teams. The No.12 Lola B12/60 Toyota of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche finished fourth overall and alone amongst the LMP1-L finishers as their teams mates had been forced to retire from the race after only 24 laps due to a gearbox issue.
In LMP2 G-Drive Racing’s No.26 Morgan Nissan, driven by Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal, came out as winners ahead of the No. 47 KCMG ORECA 03 Nissan after a battle from start to finish which saw the lead being traded often. In the second half of the race the No.47 KCMG was leading the G-Drive car by less than a second, providing the fans with some great entertainment. Unfortunately this came to an early end because of a drive-through penalty for the Hong Kong entry for speeding in the pit lane during the Safety Car period. This allowed the G-Drive Morgan to pull away to a clear lead at the chequered flag.
The SMP Racing team had a more difficult transition to the FIA WEC, with the No.27 finishing 13th overall after an early puncture and a wrong tyre choice in the wet conditions delayed them further still. The No.37 SMP ORECA 03 Nissan retired after 65 laps due to an issue with the fuel pump.
The next round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship will be at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on the 2nd and 3rd May for the traditional dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.