Spa WEC: Toyota grinds out win on Hypercar debut

The #8 Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley won the first race of the FIA World Endurance Championship's Hypercar era, defeating Alpine after a gruelling back and forth battle in the 6 Hours of Spa.

Toyota started its first-ever race with the all-new GR010 Hybrid on the front foot by qualifying both cars on the front row, but its narrow pace advantage over the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson meant the Japanese giant needed a relatively smooth race to secure victory.

That didn't happen however, with polesitter Kamui Kobayashi throwing away the lead in the second half of the race by going off the track at Bruxelles in the #7 car, losing a lap in the process.

The #8 car also had its issues, notably receiving a 30-second time penalty for an early pitstop infraction, in which the Toyota crew took the refuelling hose off the car six seconds short of the required 35-second minimum time.

That gave Alpine a fighting chance to take a win with the grandfathered and pegged back LMP1 car, which was run by Rebellion until last season.

The A480 shared by Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere traded the lead with the #8 Toyota depending on the pitstop sequence, but ultimately couldn't live with the #8 Toyota's race pace.

Buemi crossed the line with a 1m07 gap on Negrao, who was further held back by a late puncture.

The #7 Toyota took on the lion's share of the Cologne team's teething issues with its all-new Hypercar, losing time with a slow pitstop early on and having to do a full system reset during a late full-course yellow.

Kobayashi ultimately took third, one minute clear of the leading LMP2 car, after also having to take a drive-through for Lopez hitting the #91 Porsche at the Bus Stop.

LMP2: United Autosports dominates

In LMP2 United Autosports produced another crushing display with its #22 Oreca 07-Gibson.

Phil Hanson, polesitter Filipe Albuquerque and newcomer Fabio Scherer led from start to finish and amassed a healthy one-minute lead, with only a late drive-through penalty for a full-course yellow violation able to dent their dominant lead.

The #26 G-Drive Aurus-badged Oreca driven by Roman Rusinov, Franco Colapinto and Nyck de Vries looked set for second place after being driven to the front by de Vries, but the team was forced to abandon the race with an oil leak in the fifth hour.

That promoted the #28 JOTA Oreca of Stoffel Vandoorne, Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist to second, but a drive-through for dangerous driving by Blomqvist handed second to the #38 sister car of Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson.

The #38 trio finished 44 seconds behind the winners, with the #28 car a further minute in arrears.

Racing Team Nederland took a Pro-Am win courtesy of a trouble-free run by Giedo van der Garde, Frits van Eerd and Job van Uitert, beating Inter Europol Competition to fourth in class.

Early LMP2 Pro-Am frontrunner DragonSpeed was hampered by a drive-through for Juan Pablo Montoya - for causing a collision - and lost further time to finish seventh in class and third in Pro-Am, behind RealTeam Racing.

Series debutant Team WRT also fell away from the front due to a clutch issue, but the Belgian squad's Oreca also looked competitive in the hands of Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi.

GTE Pro: Porsche defeats Ferrari

In a five-car GTE Pro class, the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre and Neel Jani proved the pick of the field.

Picking up where he left off after his stunning pole on Friday, Estre continued to dominate the field during the opening stages of the race, with only a puncture being able to worry the Porsche factory team.

Estre and GTE debutant Jani took the win 25 seconds ahead of the first of the AF Corse Ferraris, the #51 488 GTE Evo of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

The #52 sister car of Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra, another car hit with a drive-through for full-course yellow infractions, completed the podium 1m38 behind.

Corvette finished a distant fourth on its first outing outside North America with the C8.R, one lap behind the class leaders.

Antonio Garcia shared the #63 machine with Oliver Gavin, who made his final appearance as a professional racer after a glittering 20+ year career, which included five Le Mans wins for Corvette.

The second Porsche, the #91 of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, finished last in class after suffering two right-rear punctures, the second of which came after being punted off by the #7 Toyota.

GTE Am: AF Corse wins as Rovera shines

The #83 AF Corse Ferrari dominated the GTE Am class. After being established at the forefront by Francois Perrodo, Italian GT champion Alessio Rovera underlined his credentials by sprinting away from the field.

Nicklas Nielsen finished the job, crossing the line with a 1m08 lead on the #33 TF Sport Aston Martin of standout amateur Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga and Dylan Pereira.

The #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Alessio Picariello, Marco Seefried and Andrew Haryanto look set to finish third, but it too was hit with a FCY-related 30-second penalty and was demoted to fifth.

That promoted the #47 Cetilar Ferrari of Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Antonio Fuoco to third in class.

Full highlights of the WEC 6 Hours of Spa are available on Motorsport.tv. The FIA World Endurance Championship heads to Portugal next month for June 13's 8 Hours of Portimao.

Full results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR
2 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Alpine A480 HYPERCAR 1'07.196
3 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1 Lap
4 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Oreca 07 LMP2 1 Lap
5 38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 2 Laps
6 28 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
Oreca 07 LMP2 2 Laps
7 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
Oreca 07 LMP2 3 Laps
8 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Oreca 07 LMP2 3 Laps
9 70 Switzerland Esteban Garcia
France Loic Duval
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 4 Laps
10 21 Sweden Henrik Hedman
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Oreca 07 LMP2 4 Laps
11 1 Colombia Tatiana Calderon
Germany Sophia Flörsch
Netherlands Beitske Visser
Oreca 07 LMP2 4 Laps
12 20 Denmark Jan Magnussen
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Denmark Dennis Andersen
Oreca 07 LMP2 5 Laps
13 25 United States John Falb
Portugal Rui Andrade
Spain Roberto Merhi
Aurus 01 LMP2 5 Laps
14 24 United States Patrick Kelly
France Gabriel Aubry
Switzerland Simon Trummer
Oreca 07 LMP2 5 Laps
15 92 France Kevin Estre
Switzerland Neel Jani
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 9 Laps
16 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 9 Laps
17 52 Brazil Daniel Serra
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 9 Laps
18 63 Spain Antonio Garcia
United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
Chevrolet Corvette C8.R LMGTE PRO 10 Laps
19 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 10 Laps
20 83 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 10 Laps
21 33 United States Ben Keating
Dylan Pereira
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 10 Laps
22 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 11 Laps
23 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 11 Laps
24 88 Indonesia Andrew Haryanto
Germany Marco Seefried
Belgium Alessio Picariello
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 11 Laps
25 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Brazil Augusto Farfus
Brazil Marcos Gomes
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 11 Laps
26 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 12 Laps
27 85 Switzerland Rahel Frey
United Kingdom Katherine Legge
Italy Manuela Gostner
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 12 Laps
28 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Andrea Piccini
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 13 Laps
29 31 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 35 Laps
77 Germany Christian Ried
Australia Jaxon Evans
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 24 Laps
26 Russian Federation Roman Rusinov
Argentina Franco Colapinto
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Aurus 01 LMP2 37 Laps
44 Slovakia Miro Konopka
United Kingdom Tom Jackson
United Kingdom Darren Burke
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2
86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM
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Series WEC
Event Spa-Francorchamps
Sub-event Race
Author Filip Cleeren
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