Hard-foght hypercar win for Toyota Gazoo Racing in Spa

Hard-foght hypercar win for Toyota Gazoo Racing in Spa

01.05.2021: 6 Hours of Spa 2021 Circuit Spa-Francorchamps Saturday, May 1st 2021 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing began the Hypercar era in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a landmark victory in the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps following an exciting

6 Hours of Spa 2021
Circuit Spa-Francorchamps
Saturday, May 1st 2021



TOYOTA GAZOO Racing began the Hypercar era in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a landmark victory in the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps following an exciting start to the 2021 season in Belgium.
 



Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley earned a place in the record books by winning in the #8 GR010 HYBRID after a dramatic and tense battle at the front, overcoming a close challenge from the #36 Alpine in second and their own team-mates in the #7 car.
 


In an incident-packed race, the Hypercars foght relentless from the off. World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López started from pole position in their #7 GR010 HYBRID and had challenged for victory but finished third following several setbacks.
 


Today’s result marks TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s fifth consecutive win in Belgium as it begins its challenge for a hat-trick of World Championships.
 
 
 
When the green flags waved to begin WEC’s new era, Mike led the 31-car field, with Sébastien closely behind over the opening laps. The #8 took the lead on lap 11 and the pair of GR010 HYBRIDs were hotly pursued by the #36 Alpine.
 


As the first pit stops approached, the race took its first dramatic turn. Mike brought the #7 into the pits and lost time when the car did not leave cleanly, before Sébastien visited the pits a lap later.
 


At the end of that stop, the fuel nozzle was removed from the #8 before the 35secs minimum refuelling time had elapsed, breaking a new regulation and resulting in a 30-second penalty, taken at the car’s next pit stop, when Brendon took the wheel.
 


With the #7 requiring a fluid refill when Mike handed over to José, the #36 Alpine took over at the front. At half distance, José was closing in and just a few seconds behind, with Brendon further back in the third-placed #8.
 


The exciting Hypercar battle showed no sign of easing off, and neither did the drama. Jose made contact with a GT car, slightly damaging the front bodywork. Then with just under two hours remaining, the #7 slid off track and became stuck in the gravel, requiring a rescue vehicle to recover it before he resumed in third.
 


That left Kazuki in the #8 hunting down the #36 Alpine for the lead, while Kamui suffered a further setback when the #7 was given a drive-through penalty for the earlier contact with a GT car.
 


Following the final Hypercar fuel stops, Sébastien in the leading #8 had a modest cushion of around a minute over the Alpine and he brought the car safely to the chequered flag to win by 1min 7.196secs from the #36, with Kamui bringing the #7 home one lap behind.
 


Battle will resume for Hypercar honours in Portugal next month, when the inaugural 8 Hours of Portimao takes place on 13 June.
 


Hisatake Murata, Team President:
“What a dramatic and unpredictable start to this new era for our team. We all hope that Hypercar will become an extremely competitive class and this race lived up to the expectations of fans around the world.


Thanks to WEC and the race organisers for giving us an opportunity to race safely despite the global situation. We faced several difficulties but thanks to a big effort from the mechanics, engineers and drivers we began this new chapter in endurance racing in the centre of the podium.


Despite the challenges this week, the team never gave up and Kamui really showed this spirit when he overtook the race leader just a few laps after being stuck in the gravel. Today was a strong start for our next generation of Racing Hybrid technology but we are still learning and improving with our GR010 HYBRID.



It has not been the smoothest week for the team at Spa but this has highlighted areas to improve so we will work hard to do this before the next race, and particularly before Le Mans.”
 




Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps results:



1st  #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing                                           162 laps          
2nd #36 Alpine (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxivierre)                           +1min 7.196secs         
3rd #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing                                            +1 lap  
4th  #22 United Autosports (Hanson/Scherer/Albuquerque)       +1 lap           
5th  #38 JOTA (Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson)                         +2 laps     
6th  #28 JOTA (Geleal/Vandoorne/Blomqvist)                          +2 laps
 




Alastair Moffitt, photos Toyota

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01.05.2021 / MaP

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