Toyota finish 1-2 in rain-shortened Silverstone race
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. 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.
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.
Anthony Davidson (no8 Toyota TS040-Hybrid): “It has been a fantastic weekend and it is brilliant to win my home race. The team did a fantastic job all weekend. It looked like it would be an epic fight with Audi and Porsche if it had stayed dry, but we knew the rain was coming and we had set our car up for wet conditions. We made the right call on tyres, the strategy was just perfect; that’s how you win races. It is particularly special to also win the Tourist Trophy and the Richard Lloyd Trophy. It is a fantastic achievement and I couldn’t have wished for a better weekend.”
Nicolas Lapierre (no8 Toyota TS040-Hybrid): “It has been very close since the beginning of the weekend but the team really made a difference today with the strategy. It was spot-on and delivered a dream start to the season for the whole team. Even though we had a big margin it was still nerve-wracking at the end as anything can happen in such conditions. The team did a good job on strategy and this is a nice reward. The first race of the season is always a special occasion so I am particularly proud to win today. It means a lot, not only to win the race but also the Tourist Trophy and join such impressive names.”
Sébastien Buemi (no8 Toyota TS040-Hybrid): “I am really happy with this result and it is a big credit to the team that we can win in the TS040 HYBRID’s first race. The conditions were very difficult at the end; it was really wet and hard to stay on track even behind the safety car. So I think the race director made the right call to end the race a little early. In general the car felt good and this gives us confidence for the rest of the season. But the competition was close and we can expect another big fight in Spa. We will enjoy this great result and quickly focus on the next race.”
Julien Canal (no26 G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan) : « I’m very happy to have won this race in LM P2. The conditions were rather hard. We started the race with a headlight that wasn’t working, and we had to change the bonnet. The leader got away, but we managed to get the lead again after the safety car. I am happy with my performance; it’s not easy to start in LM P2 with the big boys. Olivier did a very good job, and Roman raced well too. I think we didn’t make any mistakes, and it paid off! »
Olivier Pla (no26 G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan) : « 1st race at the WEC and 1st victory, we couldn’t have hoped for a better result, even though it wasn’t as straightforward as that. It started really well, and we could cope, but then we had an issue and we had to change the bonnet to fix the front headlight which burnt out, and so we had to follow the rules and change it immediately, which made us lose a lot of time. With the rain which came to bother us now and then, it really wasn’t easy. The car was perfect, and everything was under control. It was great to start like this and I hope it’s just the start of a long string of wins. »
Roman Rusinov (no26 G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan) : « I think it was a very tough race. I ran on a wet track with slicks! There were moments when things could have gone wrong, because the rain kept starting and stopping, and occasionally, you would arrive in a corner, where it had been completely dry before, and it slid like crazy. I had a few frights. It was tough with the traffic, but I think the team did a good job. Even though we had a few problems during the pit stops, I think we managed the race well, and won. »
Full results and classifications can be found HERE
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