Toyota scores 1-2 finish in WEC season opener at Silverstone

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A heavy rain shower at Silverstone ended the 2014 World Endurance Championship season opener almost half an hour early with the two Toyota TS040 Hybrids claiming a 1-2 finish.

The No. 8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Nicolas Lapierre won the Six Hours of Silverstone by a one-lap margin over the No. 7 of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin, and Kazuki Nakajima.

Porsche also earned a podium finish in its comeback to top-tier sports car racing, earning a third-place result with its No. 20 919 Hybrid driven by Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. The No. 20 finished two laps off the pace.

The turning point of the race came in the opening hour. As light rain began to fall, Wurz brought the No. 7 in for service and went on the wet tires, while Buemi in the No. 8 got the intermediate tires.

The inters ultimately allowed Buemi to take control of the lead from Wurz, who spun out and pitted again shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, both of Audi’s R18 e-tron quattros were forced to leave the race early. Lucas di Grassi crashed the No. 1 Audi in the opening hour, and the team was unable to get it back on the track due to terminal chassis damage.

Then, later in the running, Benoit Treluyer lost control at the Copse corner and wrecked the No. 2 Audi. The Frenchman tried to get the damaged car back to the pits, but was forced to abandon it in the end.

Porsche’s second car, the No. 14, also failed to make the finish. Neel Jani entered the pits after losing the left front wheel on his 919 Hybrid, but after repairs, he was forced to go back with a hydraulic problem that would end the day for that team.

In P2, the No. 26 G-Drive Morgan/Nissan was victorious after a mid-race fight with the No. 47 KCMG Oreca that ended when the latter suffered a 10-second stop and go penalty for speeding on pit road. Olivier Pla ultimately took the No. 26 to a two-lap win over the No. 47.

GTE-Pro honors went to the No. 92 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR (Frederic Makowiecki, Marco Holzer and Richard Lietz), which defeated its sister car, the No. 91, for the win.

Aston Martin’s No. 97 finished third in that category, but claimed a 1-2 finish in GTE-Am. The No. 95 Vantage V8 of Kurt Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson earned first, while the runner-up went to the No. 98 of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.