After yesterday’s European Le Mans Series race with a surprising weather, løb with overraskende vejr, the same thing also happened for the first round of the new season for FIA World Endurance Championship, which was run at Silverstone.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez had taken the Pole Position, ahead of #8 with Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, with Rebellion Racing #1 with Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato and Bruno Senna in P3.
Amongst the LMP2 cars it was Racing Team Nederland #29 with Job van Uitert, Frits van Eerd and Guido van der Garde, that would start from from Pole, while United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson, Paul Di Resta and Filipe Albuquerque was second, and Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 with Gabriel Aubry, Ho-Pin Tung and Will Stevens was third.
Danske High Class Racing #33 started the race from sixth place. Anders Fjordbach and Kenta Yamashita drove in the quali, while Mark Patterson sat it over.
AF Corse #51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado was on Pole Position in GTE Pro, in front of the sister car #71 with Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina, and Aston Martin Racing #97 with Alexander Lynn and Maxime Martin in P3.
Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen started the race from P5 in GTE Pro, right ahead of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen in Porsche #92.
TF Sport Aston Martin #90 with Jonny Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluchavde took Pole in GTE Am, ahead of Team Project 1 #56 with Egidio Perfetti, Matteo Cairoli and David Klokmann, and Aston Martin Racing #98 with Ross Gunn, Darren Turner and Paul Dalla Lana in P3.
Unfortunately, there was no David Heinemeier Hansson at Silverstone this weekend, since his wife was close to giving birth to their child. That was why he got replaced by David Klokmann in #56.
Both Toyotas had a good start, Team LNT #5 had a bad one and fell back to the midfield in the LMP2 category. After that they had to try taking advantage of their top speed to drive past the other LMP2 cars.
Porsche #92 got a really good start and went past the sister car after a few corners.
Racing Team Nederland #29 with Guido van der Garde escaped to the front of the LMP2 class.
It was a ultra short race for United Autosports #22, where Paul Di Resta got technical problems on lap two. The car crawled over the finish line before stopping in the middle of the start-finish line. The Safety Car was deployed, so that the car could be pulled free and thus the field got neutralised again.
After a few minutes, the race was restarted, where Toyota #7 and #8 as well as Racing Team Nederland #29 pulled away from the others.
High Class Racing #33 fell back to last place in the LMP class, when JOTA Sport #38 did a bit of a harsh manoeuvre on Anders Fjordbach. JOTA had to race with only two drivers, since Anthony Davidson wasn’t ready to drive due to a karting injury earlier this year. Cool Racing #42 also had to drive with two drivers because Alexandre Coigny couldn’t participate in the race today after his accident in the ELMS race yesterday.
Team LNT #6 suddenly lost their right rear tire. Mike Simpson got the car slowly back to the pits, where the mechanics went to change the wheel hob, where the safety splitters were ripped out. The loose wheel resulted in a Full Course Yellow, so the marshals could get rid of it from the track.
Toyota used the FCY period to their advantage and pitted both cars, so Rebellion Racing was leading the race. The majority of the GTE Pro teams also went in to pit, and it meant that Aston Martin Racing #97 was now leading the class. In GTE Am, TF Sport Aston Martin #90 went in, leaving the lead to Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88.
Shortly after the race got restarted, #6 had to pit again due to a puncture. Cool Racing #42 also had a puncture earlier in the race, but they quickly got it handled.
Thomas Flohr in Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 had a wild solo spin in the Maggotts/Becketts combo, where the car drove over both grass and gravel, but it came back to the track on the other side.
Not long afterwards, there was a contact between MR Racing Ferrari #70 and Spirit of Race Ferrari #54, in the last chicane before the start-finish straight. Everything started when #70 dived a bit late in Turn 16, and they came in contact in Turn 17, so #70 suddenly went sideways in Turn 18. Other than a lost time and broken bumper, nothing worse happened.
Red River Sport Ferrari #62 got a Drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane during their first pitstop.
Team LNT #6 got another puncture, and again on the right rear tire.
TF Sport #90 and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 collided in Turn 3, where both cars ended up in the run-off area. But both could continue.
One and a half hours into the race, the heavens opened up and the track got really wet in just a few minutes. It caused a lot of the teams to pit, but not everyone set wet tires on the cars. All Aston Martin cars gambled on slicks, hoping the rain would stop quickly and that it would give them an advantage. That tactic didn’t work at all, and shortly after that they had to pit again to set wet tires on the cars, and thus they were hopelessly behind in GTE Pro.
Things went wrong when Rebellion Racing #1 came in to pit. Norman Nato couldn’t brake the car on the wet concrete and skated into the fuel tank and hit a mechanic. The doctors quickly went to check on the mechanic, and we wish him a speedy recovery. But it cost the team one and a half minutes too long, and they fell back behind the leading Toyota.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 had a problem with the wiper blade, which pointed out in an odd angle, and didn’t work effectively. Brendon Hartley had to drive several laps without a wiper blade, until the car pitted. The longer pitstop caused #8 to lose the lead to #7.
Halfway into the race, Team LNT #6 and AF Corse Ferrari #71 had a collision in the Maggotts/Becketts section. The two cars hit each other and spun. While LNT only spun over the grass and gravel, the right side of the Ferrari hit the armco and it damaged both suspensions. It deployed the Safety Car, since the Ferrari was stranded on one of the faster places of the track. Luckily Miguel Molina could climb out of the car himself, but the car could no longer continue.
When the pit opened again, the majority of the field went in to get slicks on, since the track was drying out. Rebellion Racing #3 was one of the cars that didn’t pit and now led the race.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 lost plenty of time when they had to wait by the pit exit for the Safety Car to drive past the pits.
Signatech Alpine Elf #36 must get a new nose, when the splitter on the old one was damaged.
At the restart, Rebellion Racing #3 was in front in the LMP1 class, Racing Team Nederland #29 in LMP2, Porsche #92 in GTE Pro and AF Corse #83 in GTE Am.
After about 25 minutes of slow driving behind the Safety Car, the race got restarted. It didn’t take long before Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 flew past Rebellion Racing #3, only four turns later.
It was penalty galore when the race went by again. Team Project 1 Porsche #56, AF Corse Ferrari #83, TF Sport Aston Martin #90 and Aston Martin Racing #98 all got a Drive-through penalty for incorrect procedure under the Full Course Yellow period at the start of the race.
Rebellion Racing #1 and Racing Team Nederland #29 got a five-second pitstop penalty for incorrect procedure under the Full Course Yellow periode – but apparently not as bad as the four AM cars.
Cool Racing #42 with Nicolas Lapierre took the lead of the LMP2 class with one and a half hours left, and Job van Uitert in Racing Team Nederland #29 had to give up the place to the rapid Frenchman.
Team LNT #6 got a Drive-through for not following the marshals’ instructions about the repair work of the car.
Rebellion Racing #3 got a five-second Stop & Go penalty, when the engine had gotten too much fuel not just once, but twice. That was why they fell back behind the two Toyotas and could only dare think of victory if something happened to the Japanese team.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 had overtaken the lead in the GTE Am, after the four competitors had taken their penalties. AF Corse Ferrari #83 was, however, not far behind and appeared to have more speed than the Porsche.
With 84 minutes left of the race, Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 took the lead of the race when Hartley dived past his teammate Kobayashi.
MR Racing Ferrari #70 got a Drive-through penalty for constantly driving outside the track limits.
With an hour left on the clock, there were only three seconds between the first four cars in the GTE Pro class, with Porsche #92 ahead of #91, AF Corse Ferrari #51 and Aston Martin Racing #97. AMR #95 had lost a lap due to the confusion about their tire choice and the Safety Car periods.
Team LNT #5 stood still in the middle of the gravel. It was too bad for Ben Hanley, since he was just came into the car and got stuck in the gravel on his out lap… It cost him a couple of minutes before he got pulled free again.
The battle in the GTE Pro intensified, when AF Corse Ferrari #51 got a Drive-through penalty for overtaking under one of the Safety Car periods. Before they took it, they managed to overtake both #91 and #92, and was about to take the lead – until they took the penalty. After that Bruni in #91 went to attack #92 and snatched the lead from Michael Christensen. So it was now Porsche 1-2.
Dempsey-Proton Porsche #77 was ahead in the GTE Am class, but Nicklas Nielsen in AF Corse Ferrari #83 was on the way forward by driving past Gulf Racing #86, and afterwards taking over the lead of the class when #77 dived into the pits for their last pitstop.
Rebellion Racing #1 had a really bad finish on the race. Within the last half hour, they had to pit twice. First they changed all four tires and both front and rear of the car, after a contact with a competitor. The car still didn’t drive properly so it required some repair in the garage. But it wasn’t enough to send them lower than a fourth place, which was their initial position before the pitstops, since team LNT had even worse problems through the race.
JOTA Sport #38 got a Drive-through penalty for overtaking under the Safety Car earlier in the race, but they were already out of the podium in LMP2 anyway. It was the same for High Class Racing #33 and Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88, who also had to do an extra tour through the pitlane.
It wasn’t the case for Cool Racing #42. They had to take a drive-through for the same offence but could come out in the lead again in the LMP2 class, because they had such a big lead. Aston Martin Racing #98 also got penalised for the same thing, but they didn’t lose their second place for the same reason.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 got an extra penalty for blocking another car in one of their pitstops – which meant an extra Drive-through for them.
Rebellion Racing #3 went in to serve their 30-second Stop & Go penalty, when they had yet another exceed of fuel consumption.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez won the race, ahead of their teammates in #8 with Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, while Rebellion Racing #3 with Pipo Derani, Loic Duval and Nathanael Berthon finished third.
It was a fantastic story in LMP2, where Cool Racing #42 with Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga won the race, less than 24 hours after their ELMS car got damaged. They had Alexandre Coigny on the podium, since he was a big part of the team, even though he didn’t drive the car. They won in front of Signatech Alpine Elf #36 with Andre Negrao, Pierre Ragues and Thomas Laurent, who drove past Racing Team Nederland #29 with Guido van der Garde, Job van Uitert and Frits van Eerd on the very last lap.
High Class Racing #33 with Anders Fjordbach, Mark Patterson and Kenta Yamashita had a difficult debut in the FIA WEC and finished in P7, two laps behind the winning Cool Racing #42.
Porsche #91 with Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz won GTE Pro, ahead of Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre. Aston Martin Racing #97 with Maxime Martin and Alexander Lynn finished in third place.
The wrong tire choice was costly for AMR #95, with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen, who finished fifth in the GTE Pro.
GTE Am was won by AF Corse Ferrari #83 with Nicklas Nielsen, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo, with Aston Martin Racing #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner in P2, and MR Racing Ferrari #70 with Motoaki Ishikawa, Olivier Beretta and Kei Cozzolino in third.
Since it was the first the first round of the season, the championship standing is the same as the race results – with a single bonus point for the Polesitters.
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2019/20 will be run on 6 October at the Fuji circuit in Japan.