Toyota and G-Drive Maintain 100% Record with Second Win in Two Races
Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi took their second win in two races in their Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 hybrid with a dominant victory at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium in front of a massive crowd that numbered in excess of 46,000 over the two days. The early pace was set by the no14 Porsche of Neel Jani but a slow pitstop allowed the Toyota to get ahead, a lead the trio never lost until the chequered flag.
The no1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Lucas di Grassi, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval finished a distant second and just 6.9 seconds ahead of the second Toyota of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin after a quick last pitstop got Duval back out ahead. The no7 Toyota suffered from severe oversteer early in the race but Sarrazin kept the car on track until the first pitstop and after that the car was on the pace until the end of the race.
After starting on pole position the no14 Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb led for the first part of the race but the slow stop was compounded by an electrically problem that delayed Dumas for three laps as he desperately tried to reset the systems onboard the 919. This resulted in the car taking the chequered flag just off the podium in 4th. Their teammates in the no20 had an event they would probably rather forget with several problems including rear dampers and a drive shaft failure meant they finished well down the order 23 laps behind the leaders.
The no2 Audi finished in 5th overall after several issues delayed the car. Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler finished 1 lap ahead of the no3 Audi that was being run as an additional car in Le Mans trim.
The brand new Rebellion Racing R-One Toyota, which was having its first real test, suffered from some teething troubles but the team came away with some positives when the no12 car of Nicolas Prost, Mathias Beche and Nick Heidfeld completed the race distance in 7th overall, 10 laps behind the leading Toyota. The no13 R-One wasn’t so co-operative and only completed 47 race laps.
In LMP2 the day belonged to G-Drive Racing as Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla and Julien Canal also won their second race in two starts in 2014. A dominant performance didn’t get off to the best starts as the Morgan-Nissan was forced wide at the first corner. However the Russian team soon hit the front of the class and then didn’t look back during the rest of the race. Even a stop to repair a broken headlight failed to stop them reaching the chequered flag 71 seconds ahead of the Jota Sport Zytek of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Marc Gene who in turn were 1 lap ahead of the no47 KCMG Oreca.
The Chinese team started on pole position but damage to the front of the car early caused by flying debris caused problems with the aerodynamics that left the drivers struggling for front end grip and severe tyre wear.
The two SMP Racing Orecas finished 4th and 5th in class. A great start by Nicolas Minassian in the no27 was judged to have been too good and a stop go penalty resulted in the French driver being dropped down the order.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAY
Anthony Davidson (no8 Toyota TS040 HYBRID): “This season is the first time I have ever led a World Championship. To win again here for one of the team’s home races, with a lot of support from the guys from Cologne, 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.”
Nicolas Lapierre (no8 Toyota TS040 HYBRID): “It was a great result for the whole team. Since the beginning of the weekend we did everything well; in qualifying we extracted everything we could and during the race we stayed calm. It was a very tough race with Porsche. We took the lead on the pit stop so I want to say thank you to the mechanics. Sébastien and Anthony drove very well so we could extend the gap. At the end it was more under control so we just had to get to the flag safely. We have seen here that our Le Mans package is working well and the hybrid system was wonderful. We are very happy with this result; it is the best way to get ready for Le Mans.”
Sébastien Buemi (no8 Toyota TS040 HYBRID): “I am really happy with today’s race. It is our third win on the trot after our victory at the end of 2013 in Bahrain and then earlier this season at Silverstone. The race was hard. When I jumped in the car I could start to close the gap to the leader and when we took the lead we had to push hard to make a gap. But when the #14 Porsche had some trouble we knew we were in control; we just had to make sure we didn’t make any mistakes. When you win the first two races of the season, it is perfect preparation for Le Mans. But we have to focus on getting the basics right. We have better preparation than last year so we’ll see what we that brings.”
Roman Rusinov (no26 G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan) - "It was a great race from start to finish. Yesterday, we ended up third in the timing, which was a bit worrisome. The start of the race was very hard, as we were pushed, but stayed third. Olivier did a very good job. Afterwards, I got in and I managed to widen the gap up to one minute ten seconds, I think. All the team did a great job. I think it’s wonderful for everyone. It’s great for G-Drive Racing, and I’m very happy to see the Russian flag again on the top step of the podium, and the G-Drive flag too."
Julien Canal (no26 G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan) – "I’m very happy with this second victory at Spa. It’s been a challenge for me to get used to this track that’s at the same time very technical and very fast. I’ve managed to approach Olivier’s pace a bit more, so I’m quite happy with that. We worked hard on the car, and improved a bit, which envisions a very successful 24hr of Le Mans for us."
Olivier Pla (no26 G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan) – "This victory was won in a beautiful fashion, with the right kind of gap we wanted at the end of the race. The car was perfect, the strategy too. Everyone did a great job. The car was just amazing, and the Dunlop tyres too; the tyres we used this weekend allowed us to keep the same tyres for two stints, all the while keeping up a very consistent pace. Thanks to the whole Dunlop team and to my teammates as well, they did a great job! It’s great to get a 2nd victory just before Le Mans, and it allows us to arrive there feeling calm and collected; we need to carry on this way."
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 14/15 June, with the official test day on the 1 June.
CLICK HERE for the race result
CLICK HERE for the championship positions after Round 2
CLICK HERE for the Race Facts
CLICK HERE for the LMP1 Press Conference Video
CLICK HERE for the LMP2 Press Conference Video