Toyota TS050

Toyota Wins Round One of World Endurance Championship


Toyota has eclipsed Porsche, winning round one of the World Endurance Championship

ROUND One of the 2017 World Endurance Championship has gone to Toyota, which snatched victory from Porsche in the closing laps of the six-hour ace at Silverstone.

Former Toro Rosso F1 driver Sébastien Buemi, in the Toyota TS050 Hybrid shared with Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, emerged from the final pit stop eight seconds behind the leading Porsche with 30 minutes to go.

Driving on fresh tyres, he chased down the race leader, diving up the inside on a tight bend to take the lead with just 12 minutes remaining in the six-hour race and took the chequered flag 6.173 seconds ahead to claim RAC Tourist Trophy.

Teammates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López had led in stages during the first two hours and set the fastest lap, but an anti-roll bar problem created handling hassles and the car dropped to fourth and later crashed into a tyre barrier.

But Lopez was able to coax the car back to the pits where mechanics took just 66 minutes to repair the damage and they finished 23rd.

The victory was the first for Buemi and Davidson in the WEC since Shanghai 2014 and the crew’s first as a trio.

The team now prepares for the second round of the season, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on May 6, the final race before the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Spa will mark the first time Toyota has entered three hybrid-powered LMP1 cars, with Stéphane Sarrazin, Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre joining the other two crews.

Bill Buys fell in love with cars at age 8, when he saw one of his relatives racing in a Bugatti in South Africa. He has driven, raced and/or rallied just about every vehicle from Autobianchi to Zundapp since he was first published in the UK’s Motor Sport magazine, in 1956. He is now probably Australia’s oldest (or, if you prefer, most experienced) motoring writer.