Ant Davidson’s Stars of Spa
Who were the drivers that caught 2014 FIA WEC champion Anthony Davidson's eye at Spa?
The TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa saw some unforgettable ‘high-wire act’ performances from several drivers in a challenging event for the whole 37-car field.
Some excelled more than others, so we asked WEC’s co-commentator and endurance racing expert Anthony Davidson to trawl through the data to pick his ‘Stars of Spa.’
Hypercar - Mike Conway
“I was impressed with Mike. He matched Buemi's pace in the dry and he kept his head during the changeable conditions and didn't get flustered when clearly the LMP2s were a bit quicker in the absolute full wet conditions, probably when the cars are a bit nimbler.
“The tyre is completely different and maybe the full wet tyre on the Goodyear performed slightly better than the Michelin could in the Hypercar class, in the absolute torrential rain. Maybe they could just shift that little bit extra water I don't know, because on a damp the Michelin seemed to come good again and the Hypercars were clearly faster than the LMP2s.
“So, Mike didn't lose his head during that moment of the race where the LMP2's were a bit quicker. He just seemed to focus on surviving and keeping the car pointing in the right direction and built a strong platform.
“He was one of the few drivers that I didn't see make a mistake. Anybody that came through that entire period, where it's starting to rain, I applaud them because that was incredibly tough.”
“(Nicolas) Lapierre was mega again, and I thought Buemi was strong also, but sadly didn’t do much running after the issue, so Conway is definitely my top performer in Hypercar from Spa.”
LMGTE Pro – James Calado
“That LMGTE Pro race was perhaps the only one that was really helped by red flags, funnily enough, because it kept bunching cars back up together again.
“At one point we had a car (No.52 AF Corse Ferrari) a lap in front and then it was suddenly all in the mix again. It was really only after that last red flag was lifted again in the GT Pro category that we got a grandstand finish.
“It was the most enjoyable spectacle of the race, really thrilling stuff. There is clearly no love lost between the No. 51 and No.92 after Bahrain last year, and it was great to see such professional driving with leaving nothing on the table.
“I find it really hard to pick one driver out of that top bunch. It’s really hard because there were so many special performances out there.
“Kevin Estre blotted his copybook by the mistake he made in the first corner. It is easily done but still, you don't expect it from somebody like him. It's a rare mistake but he was very apologetic afterwards which was good to see.
“But it cost the Porsche team dear, and it was a shame that car No.91 wasn't really in the race, as Bruni clearly had the speed in qualifying and would have been in the mix for the win I think.
“That was a real shame, but still we had a great race. I have to say that James Calado was probably the driver of the race for me, just purely based on the pressure he soaked up in the dying laps of the race from Michael Christensen, who was mounting a challenge at every single opportunity, right down to the final chicane at the last lap.
“It was very clever defensive driving from James in a car that clearly didn't have the speed compared to the Porsche in the dry, but he made best use of his equipment in the wet and damp.
“Christensen had already managed to find his way past Antonio Fuoco, who's a formidable force in that No.52 Ferrari and drove well. So, the Dane proved he it was possible to overtake a Ferrari driver, who had the same speed pretty much as Calado.
“But James just managed to read the traffic right and put the car where he needed to, in order to soak up all that pressure, hold his nerve, and to hang on to a very memorable victory.
“It was one of his best drives that I think I've ever seen him have in that car and in that category. Bravo!”
“For me Robin Frijns was the total stand out driver at Spa.
“In those conditions, and on top of it all with his windscreen wiper not working, he was exceptional.
“I can't begin to imagine how hard that would have been visibility wise. Luckily he was out in front but still catching cars in that spray would have seen some ‘heart in the mouth’ moments for sure.
“He was blindingly quick, clearly taking a lot of risk, but he was getting away with it and managed to outperform all of the Hypercars around him in those conditions.
“He led the race outright for many laps and there was only one other driver in those conditions that got close to him. That was United Autosports USA’s Alex Lynn. He also put in a storming drive in those four wet conditions I must say.
“But for me it was the combination of Frijns in the wet and the dry that stood out. Nobody was going to better him last weekend and he was the driver of the race completely.”
“It would have been really interesting to see that race unfold, if it was just dry the whole way through.
“I feel like the LMP2 race was probably the only category that got ruined by all of the red flags. Because I think the compensation was close enough to create a really spectacular race without any interruption anyway.”
LMGTE Am – Sebastien Priaulx
“In LMGTE Am I do think that Seb Priaulx stood out to me, I thought he was really impressive.
“I think that combined with his efforts, and of course, Harry Tincknell's efforts at the end, which you'd come to expect from Harry, I think Seb had a very, very strong drive.
“There have been very few mistakes by him so far and I think that's what helped to catapult the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche into the front and to give Harry the chance to run with it at the end.
“It is always a combination of all drivers and their experience and their rankings in Am that makes the difference. At Spa young Prialux was really solid, and he plainly has a terrific career at this level ahead of him.”