The big shock from the 2nd round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend was the weather. After wet practice and damp qualifying the 6 hours race took place on Saturday under nearly cloudless skies.
The race result was, as many had predicted, a clean sweep for Audi, but the in the early stages of the race the 2013 specification Toyota showed that it had the pace to get amongst the Audis. It was unfortunate that the Toyota were forced to withdraw the car later in the race when it experienced problems with its brakes and hybrid system.
The No.1 Audi experienced problems at the start and in fact dropped back further when it suffered a puncture and so was forced to pit out of sync with the other 2 vehicles. However, the young driver squad of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer & Benoît Treluyer, the current World Champions, fought back to claim victory, and avenge the defeat they suffered at Silverstone.
Toyota’s other car, still running on 2012 specification, could not challenge the pace of the Audis and finished fourth, whilst the Rebbellion Racing team once again showed that they have a reliable and fast car by finishing fifth and sixth, and so were the first privateers home.
The victory in the LMP2 class went to Pecom Racing, improving on their third place finish at Silverstone. The team had a relatively untroubled race and showed consistent pace to keep any challengers at bay. Oak Racing battled with British Jota racing throughout the race, with the Morgan Nissan finishing ahead of the Zytek Nissan on this occasion.
In the LMGTE Pro class, the No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia of AF Corse recovered from a series of penalties for track infringements, to win by just 9 seconds from the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8. The other AF Corse car took the third step on the podium having been leading the race for much of the six hours.
The LMGTE Am class was not so close at the front of the field, where the orange Ferrari of 8 Star Motorsports was unchallenged, once it took the lead about three laps in to the race. The Ferrari even managed to survive a minor collision with a prototype, to take the chequered flag. Aston Martin Racing again had to settle for second in class after winning the battle with the Corvette from Larbre Competition who finished third.
All eyes now turn to the big one; The Le Mans 24 Hours. Toyota has some catching up to do if they are to challenge Audi for the trophy that they all really want.
Words: Richard Webb