FIA WEC: Toyota goes back-to-back with win at Spa-Francorchamps

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With the 24 Hours of Le Mans coming up, Toyota Racing has now opened the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season with back-to-back wins after its No. 8 TS040 Hybrid emerged victorious in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Nicolas Lapierre, Anthony Davidson, and Sebastien Buemi took the No. 8 to a 1 minute, 13-second win over Audi’s No. 1 R18 e-tron quattro of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, and Tom Kristensen.

During the second hour of the race, Buemi was able to pull away from the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid after a round of pit stops.

From there, both Porsche 919s would find problems later in the race. The No. 14, with Romain Dumas behind the wheel, suffered an electrical issue that forced him to run two slow laps before he could reset the car from the cockpit. Still, that car was able to soldier on to a fourth-place finish.

As for the No. 20 919 Hybrid, it sustained a broken rear damper and, later, a broken front driveshaft. It would spend an extended period in the garage before returning to the track late with Mark Webber at the controls.

G-Drive Racing also earned its second consecutive win in the LMP2 category with Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov, and Julien Canal having a clear run to the win in their No. 26 Morgan-Nissan.

Ferrari and AF Corse enjoyed a sweep in the GTE categories, with the No. 51 458 Italia (Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander) winning in GTE-Pro and the No. 61 458 (Marco Cioci, Mirko Venturi and Luis Perez Companc) winning in GTE-Am.

AF Corse narrowly missed a 1-2 finish in Pro when Patrick Pilet managed to wrestle second away late in his No. 91 Team Manthey Porsche 911. Davide Rigon wound up third in his Corse Ferrari.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III