Toyota #8 first at the 6 Hours of Spa, Alonso debuts in...

Toyota #8 first at the 6 Hours of Spa, Alonso debuts in WEC with a win

photo: Toyota Racing

The Toyota #8 took victory in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. That means that Fernando Alonso debuts in the World Endurance Championship with a win.

Fernando Alonso
photo: Toyota Racing

The double Formula 1 champion was in the car for the last stint and crossed the finish line as a winner in his first WEC race. Alonso is in a crew with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

The other Toyota – #7 with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez – was second in the race after it started from the pitlane due to a team’s mistake. Third went to the Rebellion Racing crew Andre Lotterer, Bruno Senna and Neel Jani.

Buemi and Nakajima won the race for the second successive year in the #8 TS050 HYBRID they share with newcomer Alonso

The Spanish driver enjoyed victory at Spa for the first time since an International Formula 3000 triumph 18 years ago.

The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Conway, Kobayashi and López completed a remarkable comeback by finishing second, just 1.444secs behind, despite starting one lap behind from the pit lane due to a qualifying penalty.

That result was Toyota’s 17th win from 49 WEC races, its fourth consecutive victory and its third at Spa. The team, therefore, leads both the teams’ and drivers’ World Championships going into the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16-17 June.

The race began under blue skies and Buemi made a clean getaway from pole position in the #8

He gradually extended his advantage over the chasing Rebellions while Mike took the #7 car to sixth by the time of the first pit stops. By then Sébastien had extended his lead to over 30 seconds but that evaporated shortly after the hour mark due to a safety car.

During the 30-minute delay, Kobayashi replaced Conway in the #7 while Alonso took over the #8 for his first WEC race laps. His first task when the race resumed was to defend the lead from Rebellion #1, which he did via a spectacular passing move on several GT cars on the Kemmel Straight.

Fernando’s stint was interrupted by a full course yellow but when the track was green he took advantage and built a substantial lead before handing over to Nakajima just before half distance. The #8 made an immediate return to pit lane to adjust Kazuki’s seat belts and lost more time soon after with a harmless spin at turn one.

Meanwhile, the #7 was continuing its impressive progress through the field and started the second half of the race in second position, around a minute behind the leading #8 when Lopez took over from Kobayashi at the next pit stop.

The two TS050 HYBRIDs tightened their grip on the race as the last hour approached

Fernando prepared to take the #8 to the chequered flag with a lead of around one minute over the #7, with Conway at the wheel. But another safety car closed the gap to just six seconds with 50 minutes remaining.

Alonso and Mike stayed at the wheel through a final fuel stop with 25 minutes to go, after which the team chose to hold positions and avoid any unnecessary risks after over 1,100km of flat-out racing.