Toyota emerges with first win of new FIA WEC season at Silverstone

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Toyota Gazoo Racing has won the first race of the post-Audi FIA World Endurance Championship era, albeit after a strategic battle with Porsche Team with a sprinkling of rain in-between spicing up the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone, and adding a gamble on tires to the equation.

The single Toyota TS050 Hybrid left running, the No. 8 car of past World Champions Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima took the victory following Buemi’s late pass of Brendon Hartley’s No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid. Hartley’s fuel only stop near the end of the race got the Porsche out front, but was unable to hold back the faster Toyota as the race neared its conclusion.

Buemi adds this win to his earlier wins in the current FIA Formula E Championship season to continue his recent top run of form, in what was his and Davidson’s first FIA WEC victory as teammates since 2014 at Shanghai.

Hartley shared the No. 2 Porsche with Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard to finish second, ahead of the No. 1 Porsche driven by Neel Jani and his new teammates, Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy.

With Porsche running a low downforce kit and Toyota a high downforce one, Toyota had the pace edge all weekend but a shorter amount of time in the pits and different strategy helped keep Porsche in the game to even have a shot, and a double podium was a deserved result.

Toyota’s second car went out of the race after an accident for Jose Maria Lopez in the fourth hour. Lopez limped the wounded Toyota back to the pits and the damage was further compounded when he needed a quick hospital trip, although was later released. That car had the pole for the race as Lopez shared the No. 7 entry with Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi.

Jackie Chan DC Racing took the first win of the now-all Oreca 07 LMP2 class, the lone exceptions being the Alpine A470-badged Signatech Alpine entries, with its No. 38 entry driven by ex-Audi man and new “Bentley Boy” Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung.

Vaillante Rebellion was second with the Nico Prost/Bruno Senna/Julien Canal trio in its No. 31 car with the No. 28 TDS Racing entry of Mathieu Vaxviere, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo in third.

The polesitting No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT entry of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani, the latter in his debut with the team and the car, took GTE-Pro class honors, thus providing Tincknell and Priaulx a win on home soil.

With the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado and new AF driver Alessandro Pier Guidi second and the No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki in third, it made for three different manufacturers in the top three positions in this class. Defending GTE-Pro champions Aston Martin Racing had a race to forget on home soil, ending only sixth and seventh.

Last lap contact between Pedro Lamy’s No. 98 Aston and Miguel Molina’s No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari cost them both the GTE-Am class win and opened the door for series debutantes Clearwater Racing to win that class, its No. 61 Ferrari shared by Matt Griffin, Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa. The Aston was second with the Dempsey Proton Porsche in its new lineup of Matteo Cairoli, Marvin Dienst and Christian Ried in third.

Fillon and Todt. Photo: FIA WEC

The race capped a news-heavy weekend for the WEC. Winds of potential changes to the GTE-Pro class for 2018 emerged, as did more information about LMP1 privateers for 2018 with Ginetta having made a presentation about its upcoming chassis. This morning, as well, perhaps most importantly FIA President Jean Todt and ACO President Pierre Fillon announced the series’ formal extension of WEC’s next three-year contract through to 2020.

“I am delighted by this announcement of the extension of the cooperation agreement with ACO as promoter of FIA WEC. Endurance racing is a fundamental part of the history of motor sport and I look forward to furthering the strong cooperation between the FIA and ACO teams,” Todt said in a release.

Fillon added, “When we announced this partnership in 2011 a lot of people were sceptical. I think we can say today, after five successful seasons and at the beginning of the sixth, this partnership is a success. We have a strong championship, the teams at the ACO and the FIA work together in a very constructive spirit. I want to thank Jean Todt for all he has done to create this championship. It is with great pleasure that I sign the extension to this partnership on behalf of the ACO.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.