Toyota Gazoo Racing put together a perfect weekend at the 6 Hours of Silverstone to take its third victory of the season. After six hours of racing, the #8 TS050 of Buemi/Nakajima/Alonso crossed the finishing line in front of the #7 car. In GTE Pro, Ferrari prevailed after a race-long battle with the Porsches, Fords and Aston Martins.
The #8 and #7 Toyotas were relatively unchallenged throughout the race, with the #8 catching and passing the #7 machine just before the final pit stops. Third and fourth positions went to the #3 and #1 Rebellions after technical issues plagued SMP Racing. The Russian squad could only finish fifth.
The most excitement on track was provided by the GTE Pro category. After a long battle for the lead, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari was able to build a lead over the #91 Porsche 911 RSR and take the victory. In third position was the #67 Ford GT, which overtook the #92 Porsche 911 RSR with just twenty minutes of the race remaining.
Honours in LMP2 went to Jackie Chan DC Racing, who secured a one-two in class and valuable points in the championship battle. The pair of Chinese-entered prototypes came out on top after a tough battle against the Signatech Alpine Matmut and Dragonspeed cars, who went on to finish third and fourth respectively.
The battle for the podium in GTE Am went right down to the final lap, with series debutants Project 1 overtaking the #95 Aston Martin Racing machine for third position with just seconds remaining on the clock. The class victory also went Porsche’s way, with Dempsey-Proton Racing taking a relatively comfortable win ahead of the TF Sport Aston Martin.
Chaotic opening stages at Silverstone
With the long summer break now behind us, drivers were itching to get back on track in earnest. Some were a little too keen, it seemed, with the Rebellion Racing and SMP Racing cars coming into contact in the first turn. The collision also backed up the rest of the field, causing even more mayhem behind.
There were multiple spinners in LMP2 and both GTE classes and inevitable contact, which left shards of debris littering the circuit. Several cars were forced to pit to repair bodywork damage, but all were able to continue. The chaotic opening stages backed up the GTE Pro field and lit the touch paper for an almost race-long battle for class honours.
After 24 laps, the #11 SMP Racing piloted by local hero Jenson Button, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov was forced to retire. It was a disappointing end to a promising weekend for the SMP Racing crew, who lead the free practice session and qualified as the fastest privateer car in LMP1.
Debris, retirements and a full-course yellow
After a couple of hours of racing, debris had collected around the circuit and began to pose a risk to the cars. The Race Director decided to throw a full-course yellow to clear the bodywork and other parts strewn across the track. The decision came as a surprise to ByKolles Racing Team driver René Binder, who was only just able to avoid the cars ahead but could do nothing to prevent contact with the tyre barriers.
Further contact came between the remaining SMP Racing car and the #71 AF Corse Ferrari. The prototype touched the right rear of the GTE car and caused a puncture on the GT car. The tyre parts ripped the wheel-arch bodywork to pieces and cast even more debris across the tarmac. The extensive repair work in the garage put paid to any chances the Ferrari had of a podium finish.
One of the Fords also had to abandon its hopes of class victory soon afterwards. During a pit stop for the #66 car, the mechanics were unable to close the driver door and had to fit a replacement door unit, costing the GTE team almost four minutes in the pits.
As in the previous two rounds, BMW found it difficult to run near the front of GTE Pro and were unable to trouble the leaders at all. In the final third of the race, driver Augusto Farfus saw his cockpit begin to fill with thick smoke. The Brazilian was unable to return to the pits and was forced to abandon his M8 GTE at the side of the track.
Images (c) WEC-Magazin / Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk