Toyota, Spa-Francorchamps, WEC, 2018

Alonso wins on WEC debut with Buemi and Nakajima

World Endurance Championship

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Fernando Alonso got his World Endurance Championship campaign off to the best possible start by winning on his debut for Toyota with team mates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

However the team’s other car made them work hard for the victory despite starting from the pit lane with a one lap deficit due to a qualifying infringement. The number eight Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez regained its lost time thanks to a series of Safety Car interruptions a spin and an extra pit stop for the number seven machine.

Alonso also had to contend with a loss of hybrid boost and rising gearbox temperatures during his final stint in the car. The number eight machine crossed the line one-and-a-half seconds behind in a one-two finish for Toyota.

Despite pre-race predictions their customer LMP1 opposition would prove strong, the two Toyotas had a two-lap margin over their closest rivals when the chequered flag fell. The podium was completed by the Rebellion car of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Romain Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola won the LMP2 class for G-Drive. Ford won the GTE Pro class with Stefan Mucke, Olivier Pla and Billy Johnson in their GT, but the sister car went out when Harry Tincknell went into the barrier at Eau Rouge in a near-carbon copy of Pietro Fittipaldi’s crash 24 hours earlier. Fortunately Tincknell emerged from the car unaided.

Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana took a narrow victory in the GTE Am class. The Aston Martin factory car held off the TF Sport-run machine of Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood by two tenths of a second.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Alonso wins on WEC debut with Buemi and Nakajima”

  1. The car numbers of the Toyotas are mixed up . Alonso drove #8 Toyota

  2. Alonso’s first win at Spa since 2000, when he was racing in F3000.

  3. First win in five years; first win in Spa in 18 years.
    Now we need something great from McLaren next week.
    (Although I do not believe that McLaren will bring the b-spec considering that Goss was recently fired.)

    1. B spec and new fuel, let’s hope it will work!

      1. And alonso home race

  4. It means nothing for Alonso if he does not win the 24 hours, but indeed a great start in the WEC even if it means less now that Porsche is out of the LMP1 class.
    I still wonder why the stewards did not penalise the sister car for overtaking before the safety car line.

    1. Was it the sister car? I was under the impression that it was the #8 car who might be facing a penalty, but then again, I found it extremely hard to keep track of what exactly was going on. I’m so spoilt by F1 …
      I do remember it was quite a tumultous situation, with cars from different categories overtaking each other left, right and centre, so I thought that the stewards might’ve found the offense small enough to keep their hands off.
      I distantly remember a similar situation at the Nürburgring 24 hours a few years ago, when the second car on the grid overtook the polesitter before the start/finish line, and the stewards didn’t get involved, either. However, different year, different series, different regulatory body, so that doesn’t have to mean anything.

      1. It was the sister car since Alonso’s car was in front he did not have to overtake any competitor ;)

        1. @abdelilah
          Can’t argue against that logic, can I?
          Well, in fact yes: This wasn’t about overtaking competitors, but about lapping them. As the LMP1 cars didn’t get any preferential treatment from the safety car, they were seldom the first cars in the pack when the race was restarted.

      2. nase, the coverage seemed to suggest it was Lopez who was being investigated, so that would seem to confirm that it was the No.7 car that was under investigation instead of the No.8 car.

  5. Another couple of wins and Nando will be leaving F1 for good next year.

    1. Yep, for IndyCar.

  6. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    5th May 2018, 19:44

    Congratulations to him.

    1. Good to see him back on top of Mount Olympus, and good to see him again with a Michelin cap (how long ago was that?). It’s a pity that no real battle was needed.

      1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
        5th May 2018, 22:25

        Michelin cap (how long ago was that?)

        I believe it was 2006 @osella-alfaromeo

  7. Finally no engine failure! Finally!

  8. They handed him the win with team orders. He nearly crashed lot of times and that was the end, they decided on marketing strategy that he should won, but he was ridiculized by the other team car.

    1. Starrfokker
      6th May 2018, 13:05

      Yeah, but the team only decided to share that secret to you as you are so very special, right?

    2. Archit (@architjain07)
      7th May 2018, 14:59

      Read this quote from Toyota spokeperson: It’s worth adding that we would have issued exactly the same instruction if car seven had been leading after the final stops!

      I dont understand why people cant take Alonso on his merit. Safety car closed the 55 second gap they had over No#7 car otherwise they would never had the chase in the first place!

      1. @architjain07 well, the fact that the #7 started a lap down might have had something to do with being behind in the first place as well.
        There’s only 2 cars fighting for victory so don’t be surprised if people question the merit of a victory when one of those 2 cars has to start a lap behind.

  9. When was the last time Alonso won something?

    Amazing race btw. Even two toyotas were at it GT cars just insane driving.

    I havent seen a WEC race I didn’t like yet. Probably I wont be alone this year watching more of them.

  10. Did Toyota tell car #7 to back off at then? Conway seemed a lot faster than Alonso in the last few laps.

  11. Is he taking part in the whole WEC championship? What if it looks like he has a shout at the title? Will he give up some F1 time? From vague memory to there was one date clash in the 2 calendars.

    1. iirc WEC changed the date of that race to avoid the F1 conflict to keep Alonso doing the whole series.

      1. Yup. Alonso is racing the whole season in WEC. The date for the Japanese WEC race was pushed on a couple of weeks…

        1. @maddme
          By exactly one week, to be precise, back to the same date it had had in the very first draft in the calendar.

      2. @dubsix @maddme

        It’s quite interesting as the WEC originally got Fuji to change their round to allow a few WEC drivers to take part in the Petit Le Mans IMSA SportsCar Championship round.
        Toyota own Fiji Speedway so when they signed Alonso they asked for it to be changed back again.
        Note that Alonso gets dug at by his detractors for the change but not the original drivers who they were trying to accommodate.
        It’s all about money for the organisers though, Alonso only wants Le Mans.

        1. @bigjoe, exactly – the Daily Sportscar website say that the change was driven entirely by Toyota wanting to maximise ticket sales by ensuring that Alonso could compete in Fuji, so they went directly to the ACO to push for the date to be changed.

        2. FlyingLobster27
          6th May 2018, 11:21

          @bigjoe The “few” drivers who wanted to do WEC and NAEC (IMSA’s longest races) – which I believe is actually closer to a dozen than a few, plus some team personnel -, requested a change to the provisional calendar. The organisers kindly obliged, and had that version of the calendar ratified by the FIA. Those drivers then trusted that they could sign contracts for both events.
          Later, the change at Toyota’s request laid waste to those contracts. Signed, final agreements. Part of those “few” drivers’ anticipated pay. These “few” may be pro drivers, many are factory drivers in fact (Pla, Tincknell and… Conway, the man who followed Alonso to the flag yesterday), but they aren’t earning the millions Alonso is.

          I hope this makes you sense the difference, and why the “few” weren’t criticised for asking a change to the draft, while Toyota does get some flack for the later change, which ruined many people’s plans. You think Alonso gets some stick unfairly, I’d tend to agree, but he has a toxic reputation, and how do you know he didn’t join in the request personally?
          I unequivocally blame the organisers. They didn’t have to accept to change a final calendar, they certainly didn’t have to do it for the sake of one driver, and they didn’t have to choose the PLM date either. This is the Super-Drawn-Out Season, there must have been room between August 2018 and April 2019 where they could have put a fly-away Fuji race.

  12. The only competition started a lap behind and was told to hold station when got close to Alonso.
    Yeah, great.

    1. number 7 was 50 seconds behind towards the end then caught up due to another safety car.
      Do you know why they wouldn’t let them race? Alonso was still him holding him off with an overheating gearbox. I guess they didn’t want the cars to fail.

    2. @edmarques
      Where did you get your information?
      Please attach a link to the story.
      I watched the race and didn’t get that impression.

      1. Robert McKay
        6th May 2018, 9:40

        I watched the race and I saw Mike Conway get right up to the back of Alonso in the last 20 minutes of the race at at the exact time Alonso was having hybrid boost issues. Conway then dropped back the next lap by about 2.5 seconds and stayed there pretty much till the end when he closed upon the final tour. I have to say my immediate suspicion was team orders.

        It was too good an opportunity for Toyota – they’d got the 1-2 already, no point stressing the cars further, make the day perfect by having the Alonso car win.

        Maybe I’m just cynical and it was a real old fashioned slog to the finish (guffaw) but they’ve got no real opposition so they’re going to have to maximise their PR somehow, aren’t they?

        1. You are speculating – where is the proof?
          It’s one thing to catch up to Alonso – quite another to pass him.
          Tying to discredit the accomplishment of a great drive without evidence is unfair.
          I have thoroughly checked web sites and find no basis to your claim.

          1. Hahahaha pathetic. The TEAM said they told them to hold station.

    3. Sounds like f1 at most races hey? In WEC you have to not only follow lmp1, there are 4 categories racing, and great battles in them. Great looking cars and great sounds too.

      1. But i am not talking about WEC, i am talking about Alonso and Toyota.

  13. Awful what toyota did, first they lied on the BoP and today they gave team orders to the toyota number 7, that crew deserved the win but its all marketing…

  14. Yeah! Pedro Lamy!

  15. Congrats… but reading some comments here how the race seemed to unfold, then looking at what happened in Quali (#7 Toyota actually got the PP by almost a 0.4sec margin), I have to reckon that there’s some suspicion it was rigged in ALO’s favour right from the start. Maybe Toyota should have teamed him up with the fastest drivers from the other car…

    1. Dont start conspiracy theories please. This is not a right wing sponsored American news website.

  16. A great clip showing the rivalry between the 2 teams and the risks Alonso was willing to take to keep car 7 from getting a lap back.

    1. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      6th May 2018, 14:41

      NASA faked that footage. Also, camera lenses make driving look riskier.

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