WEC 6 Hrs Silverstone: Toyota lose 1-2 finish, win handed to Rebellion

There was a shock twist at the end of the WEC Silverstone round when it was announced on Sunday night that the winning #8 Toyota of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima and the second place #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez had been disqualified after post race scrutineering.

The stewards decision on the #8 TS05 declared that; “the front part of the skid block deflected 9mm under the specified 2500 N load on both sides of the skid block.” This breached a technical regulation, the stewards report goes on to say “Although there are no reports of the car being involved in any specific incident, the competitor stated that his only explanation for the non-conformity must have been as a result of the car running off-track and sustaining some sort of damage to the internal stays that fix that portion of the car. The stewards considered this possibility but determined that the design of the car must be able to withstand the normal rigors of a 6 hours endurance race.”

In the case of the #7 car “the skid block deflected 6mm on the right hand side and 8mm on the left hand side under the specified 2500 N load at the front of the skid block”. The report goes on to give the same reasons stated in the decision on the #8 car.

Toyota Gazoo Racing responded earlier with the following statement;

“TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has lost its one-two victory in the 6 Hours of Silverstone following a post-race technical inspection.

The #8 TS050 HYBRID of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso crossed the line to win the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship from Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the second-placed #7 TS050 HYBRID.

Both cars suffered damage to their respective front floor areas during the race due to impacts against the new kerbs at Silverstone. Regrettably, this also caused both cars to fail deflection tests in post-race scrutineering. As a result, race stewards disqualified both cars.

The design and construction of the part concerned has not changed since its introduction at the beginning of the 2017 season. Since then it has successfully passed similar tests, most recently at Spa this season.

The team is now evaluating its next course of action.”

It was announced this morning that Toyota have withdrawn their appeal against the disqualifications and released the following statement by Akio Toyoda, the president of the Toyota Motor Corporation:

“All our drivers drove our cars with their full power and the fight for victory was truly exciting for the fans so I truly feel disappointed to lose the result.

I would like to apologize to the six drivers that we could not make a car with which they can win even though they drove all out.

On the other hand, I would also like to thank our drivers for their trust in our cars and for pushing to the limit, as this meant we could learn about improvements which can be made.

We will make our cars even stronger for the next race so that the drivers can drive all out again at Fuji Speedway and fight for another one-two victory to strengthen our challenge for the World Championship.

For the fans, thank you very much for your continued support. I hope you are looking forward to see an exciting race in October.”

The disqualification meant that third place #3 Rebellion Racing Gibson of Matthias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes was promoted to first place, with #1 sister car driven by Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer in second place. The #1 car with a driver short after Bruno Senna’s accident in Free Practice 1 in which he sustained a fractured foot.

As the race got underway it was a tricky start as their was contact between many cars in the first few turns including the #17 SMP Racing and #66 Ford Chip Ganassi, the result of contact with the #31 DragonSpeed LMP2 which suffered power problems, the #66 dropped back from LMGTE Pro pole, to back of the class but soon recovered putting in a fastest lap and finishing the first hour, fourth in class.

As the pit window opened just over halfway through the first hour, both Toyotas pitted but it was the #7 that got away quickest. Meanwhile the #11 SMP Racing of Mikhail Aleshin, Jenson Button and Vitaly Petrov pulled over at Copse with Aleshin at the wheel, engine problems took the BR Engineering BR1-AER car out of the race after 23 laps.

There was a first sniff of trouble for the #4 Bykolles Racing Team, with Oliver Webb at the wheel the car dropped down to 30th overall and spent several minutes in the pits. By just over the first hour Sebastien Buemi had reduced the gap between the #8 and the #7 Toyota by 

just over a second, and then slipping past the sister car and into the lead.

Meanwhile in GTE Pro the #67 

Ford continued to power on, moving up into second in class behind the #92 Porsche.

The #8 Toyota pitted and a driver change saw Fernando Alonso taking his first stint.

With fifteen minutes before moving into the second hour of the race, the Ford Chip Ganassi cars now dominated GTE Pro with the #67 well at the head of the class in front of the #66 with Stefan Mucke at the wheel.

Just ahead of the two hour mark, Alonso pulls off an audacious move at Stowe overtaking three GTE’s ahead of pitting a few laps later.

A full course yellow at just over the second hour due to debris on the track at Brooklands caused a degree of chaos, the Bykolles was already spun out on the Wellington Straight but there were a few more offs at the beginning of the period. The Bykolles #4 was duly rescued and their race was over at just over two hours in.

In GTE Pro Harry Tincknell now held the #67 in the lead but the #51 AF Corse with James Calado at the wheel was now second in class.

Halfway into the third hour Alonso took the lead. In LMP2 the #37 Jackie Chan Racing driven by Jazeman Jaafar suffered a puncture, giving the LMP2 lead to the #38 sister car.

Soon after the safety car was out due to debris on the track after the #71 AF Corse Ferrari also suffered a puncture and lost a lot of rear bodywork. The safety car damaged Alonso’s 5 second lead on the #7 Toyota in the hands of Mike Conway.

Eventually with just a second between the two Toyota’s, Jose Maria Lopez managed to pull ahead of Kazuki Nakajima in the #8.

The #90 TF Sport Aston Martin driven by Charlie Eastwood had contact with the #29 Racing Team Nederland, doing some damage to the Dallara P217.

Into the fourth hour there was misfortune for Antonio Felix Da Costa in the #82 BMW Team MTEK when he came off the track, eventually rejoining but suffering with a suspension problem that then brings him to a halt and causes another full course yellow.

As the final hour of the race ticked down there was problems in GTE Am for #56 Project 1 and #90 TF Sport’s cars when they were both handed 1 minute 15 seconds stop-go penalties for pit stop violations, effectively handing victory to the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche.

Meanwhile in LMP1 Buemi took the #8 Toyota back into the lead, by 30 minutes of race time left having a 9.7 second lead on the #7 with Kobayashi at the wheel. And so as the final moments of the race drew to a close it was the #8 car across the line first followed by the #7 swiftly followed by the #51 AF Corse taking the GTE Pro win.

The LMP2 win went to the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing with the #37 sister car in second place, while as expected the GTE Am win went to the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Team Porsche.

In post race scrutineering the #91 Porsche of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni, which had finished second in GTE Pro was found to have breached technical regulations due to having 48mm ground clearance instead of the regulation required minimum of 50mm, the team explained that this was due to extreme tyre wear, but the stewards decision was that competitors must meet minimum ground clearance at all times and the car was disqualified. This promoted the third place #67 Ford Chip Ganassi of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell to second place and the #92 Porsche GT Team of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen to third place.

The next round of the Championship takes place at Fuji on October 12th.

 

Final 6 hours of Silverstone top three in class results:

LMP1

#3 Rebellion Racing- M.Beche/T.Laurent/G.Menezes

#1 Rebellion Racing- N.Jani/A.Lotterer

#17 SMP Racing- S.Sarrazin/E.Orudzhev

LMP2

#38 Jackie Chan DC Racing- H.Tung/G.Aubry/S.Richelmi

#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing- J.Jaafar/W.Tan/N.Jeffri

#36 Signatech Alpine Matmut- N.Lapierre/A.Negrao/P.Thiriet

GTE Pro

#51 AF Corse- A.Pier Guidi/J.Calado

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK-A.Priaulx/H.Tincknell

#92 Porsche GT Team-M.Christensen/K.Estre

GTE Am

#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing-C.Ried/J.Andlauer/M.Campbell

#90 TF Sport-S.Yoluc/J.Adam/C.Eastwood

#56 Team Project 1-J.Bergmeister/P.Lindsey/E.Perfetti

 

Full image gallery available at:  http://www.finishlinephotos.net/?p=6121

Images  ©Andy Fitzpatrick  ©Allison Remzi