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.


IndyCar Power Rankings: Alex Palou still first as Newgarden, Ferrucci make Indy 500 jumps

NBC IndyCar power rankings
Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network

The biggest race of the NTT IndyCar Series season (and in the world) is over, and NBC Sports’ power rankings look very similar to the finishing results in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Pole-sitter Alex Palou entered the Indy 500 at the top and remains there after his impressive rebound to a fourth after a midway crash in the pits. Top two Indianapolis 500 finishers Josef Newgarden and Marcus Ericsson also improved multiple spots in the power rankings just as they gained ground during the course of the 500-mile race on the 2.5-mile oval. Though Alexander Rossi dropped a position, he still shined at the Brickyard with a fifth place finish.

Santino Ferrucci, the other driver in the top five at Indy, made his first appearance in the 2023 power rankings this year and now will be tasked with keeping his A.J. Foyt Racing team toward the front as the IndyCar circuit makes its debut on a new layout..

Heading into the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the streets of downtown, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through six of 17 races this year (with previous ranking in parenthesis):

  1. Alex Palou (1): Three consecutive top 10 finishes at the Indy 500, and yet the 2021 IndyCar champion still seems slightly snake-bitten at the Brickyard. A few different circumstances and a dash of experience, and Palou could have three Indy 500 wins. But he at least has the points lead.
  2. Marcus Ericsson (4): Some want to say the Indy 500 runner-up’s unhappiness with IndyCar race control was sour grapes, but the Swede had a legitimate gripe about the consistency of red flag protocols. Still a magnificent May for Ericsson, especially while the questions swirl about his future.
  3. Josef Newgarden (7): Strategist Tim Cindric and team did a fantastic job catapulting Newgarden from 17th into contention, and the two-time series champion did the rest. Particularly on a late three-wide pass for the lead, it can’t be overstated how brilliant the Team Penske driver was in his finest hour.
  4. Alexander Rossi (3): He winds up being the best Arrow McLaren finisher in a mostly disappointing Indy 500 for a team that seemed poised to become dominant. With a third in the GMR GP and a fifth in the Indy 500, this easily was Rossi’s best May since his second place in 2019.
  5. Pato O’Ward (2): Unlike last year, the Arrow McLaren star sent it this time against Ericsson and came out on the wrong side (and with lingering bitterness toward his Chip Ganassi Racing rival). The lead mostly was the wrong place to be at Indy, but O’Ward managed to be in first for a race-high 39 laps.
  6. Scott Dixon (5): He overcame brutal handling issues from a wicked set of tires during his first stint, and then the team struggled with a clutch problem while posting a typical Dixon-esque finish on “a very tough day.” The six-time champion hopes things are cleaner the rest of the season after the first three months.
  7. Santino Ferrucci (NR): Pound for pound, he and A.J. Foyt Racing had the best two weeks at Indianapolis. Ferrucci said Wednesday he still believes he had “by far the best car at the end” and if not for the timing of the final yellow and red, he would have won the Indy 500. Now the goal is maintaining into Detroit.
  8. Colton Herta (NR): He was the best in a mostly forgettable month for Andretti Autosport and now is facing a pivotal weekend. Andretti has reigned on street courses so far this season, and few have been better on new circuits than Herta. A major chance for his first victory since last year’s big-money extension.
  9. Scott McLaughlin (6): Ran in the top 10 at Indy after a strong opening stint but then lost positions while getting caught out on several restarts. A penalty for unintentionally rear-ending Simon Pagenaud in O’Ward’s crash then sent him to the rear, but McLaughlin still rallied for 14th. Detroit will be a fresh start.
  10. Rinus VeeKay (10): Crashing into Palou in the pits was less than ideal. But a front row start and 10th-place finish in the Indy 500 still were 2023 highlights for VeeKay in what’s been the toughest season of his career. The Ed Carpenter Racing cars have been slow on road and street courses, so Detroit is another test.

Falling out: Will Power (8), Felix Rosenqvist (9), Romain Grosjean (10)


PRESEASON: Josef Newgarden is a favorite to win third championship

RACE 1: Pato O’Ward to first; Newgarden drops out after St. Pete

RACE 2: O’Ward stays firmly on top of standings after Texas

RACE 3: Marcus Ericsson leads powerhouses at the top

RACE 4: Grosjean, Palou flex in bids for first victory

RACE 5: Alex Palou carrying all the momentum into Indy 500