Alonso victorious in WEC debut with Toyota

Photo: Getty Images

Fernando Alonso scored his first race victory in over five years on Saturday’s Six Hours of Spa, the season opener for the FIA World Endurance Championship “Super Season,” which covers both the 2018 and 2019 calendars.

Alonso, alongside co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, started on the pole for Saturday’s race, and dominated the outing in the No. 8 Toyota TS050, though they did have to withstand a late challenge from the sister No. 7 Toyota.

Alonso, who piloted the No. 8 entry for two stints during the race, took over driving duties for good just before the final hour began, with a lead of over one minute on teammates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez in the No. 7.

However, a Safety Car early in the final hour erased that gap, and allowed Conway, who finished the race in the No. 7, to close on Alonso.

Yet, Alonso was able to hold off Conway during the final hour, which included a final round of pit stops, and eventually built the gap back up to around three seconds before both drivers backed off to preserve the 1-2 finish.

Alonso was elated to score a long-awaited victory, his first since the Spanish Grand Prix in 2013.

“I was telling the guys before, (it was) a long time since I stood on the podium. I will be here all night long, until tomorrow morning!” Alonso quipped afterward in his victory interview.

However, Alonso was not the only outlier driver at the WEC “Super Season” opener. Verizon IndyCar Series stalwart Tony Kanaan was also a participant, joining Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the No. 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK.

However, their day ended early, with Tincknell crashing hard in Eau Rouge, the same corner in which Pietro Fittipaldi crashed and suffered leg fractures the previous day. Luckily, Tincknell emerged unhurt.

Meanwhile, the sister No. 66 Ford, in the hands of Stefan Mucke, Olivier Pla, and Billy Johnson, scored victory in the GTE-Pro class.

Other class winners were G-Drive Racing’s Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Andrea Pizzitola in LMP2 –  in the No. 26 Oreca 07 Gibson – and Aston Marton Racing’s Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, and Mathias Lauda in GTE-Am – in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage.

Full results can be found here and race highlights can be viewed here.


Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.