WEC: Toyota GAZOO Racing finishes 1-2 at rain-soaked Spa

The #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing took the win ahead of its sister car in a rain-soaked 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Round 6 of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship.

With rain falling down beforehand, the race started behind a safety car in wet conditions.

On the outlap, the #57 Team Project 1 of Ben Keating spun at Eau Rouge, as did Andre Negrao in the #36 Signatech Alpine LMP2 (just at the bottom of the hill at the Eau-Rouge complex).

Norman Nato led in the #1 Rebellion from the green flag and held the lead ahead of both Toyotas.

The #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing and Signatech Alpine battled for fourth in LMP2 into the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex, with the #36 making the move on the #37 eventually at that corner.

The LMP2 pole-sitter of Filipe Albuquerque in the #22 United Autosports built up a confident lead, and did so for the first 43 laps into the race.

Nato quickly fell victim to a lack of tyre temperature, moving down to fourth, as the team later revealed that they had set the tyre pressures too high.

Toyota’s four-wheel-drive Hybrid drive allowed the #8 of Sebastien Buemi to pull eight seconds away from the #1 by lap seven.

A string of battles continued to heat up throughout the race in the LMP2 category, as the #29 fought past the #22.

The GTE-Pro provided a grand amount of action, between all of the six cars. The #51 AF Corse went door-to-door with the #91 into Eau Rouge, making a move on the Porsche.

Christian Reid continued to pull off a strong opening stint to lead in the GTE-Am class for the #56 Team Project 1.

Drama occured in LMP1 on Lap 12 as Buemi in the #8 suffered a Hybrid-recuperation issue on braking.

At the same time, the #4 ByKolles faced electrical issues that would haunt them throughout. Both slowed down, but got back to speed swiftly.

After around 40 minutes in, a grand strategic battle broke out across the field as teams would gamble on slicks and awaited the expected heavier downpour of rain.

The second safety car was deployed just before the second hours to retrieve Paul Dalla Lana’s GTE-Am Aston Martin which got stuck in the gravel trap at turn 13, on his outlap after the pitstop on slicks.

On lap 27, the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing suffered what emerged to be a brake bias issue that caused the rear brakes to set on fire; after a 15 minute repair job, they returned eight laps behind the leading #7.

Several Am battles broke out between the #54 and the #57, as the #56’s lead was lost by the #86 Gulf Racing.

The #29 LMP2 Oreca 07 had made a huge comeback after starting at the back of the field, making up 23 positions to fight wheel-to-wheel with the #22 United Autosports.

They had a number of pit-crew/pit-stop battles as well, with one having 0.5s separating them, and the next being 6 seconds for wet tyres.

A safety car period was deployed later at the third hour due to the heavy downpour; teams pitted accordingly.

With an hour and 35 minutes left, a tense battle broke out as Thomas Laurent in the #36 made a daring move past Paul Di Resta at the top of Radillon. The former F1 driver got past next lap at La Source.

A heavy impact for Laurent with 40 minutes left in the #36 at Blanchimont brought out the fourth safety car and was the only race retirement.

The #4 ByKolles faced a broken exhaust that was brought back out after repairs, 10 minutes from the end.

The final 25 minutes had a tense battle for third between all manufacturers for P3 in GTE Pro.

Mike Conway started and finished in the #7 to win +34.170s over the #8 crew in LMP1.

United Autosports claimed a hard-fought third consecutive WEC victory by Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Di Resta, in LMP2.

In the GTE classes, the #92 Porsche took first in Pro followed by the two Aston Martins. AF Corse took the win in Am by three seconds over the #77.

1 #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing LMP1
2 #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing LMP1
3 #1 Rebellion Racing LMP1
4 #22 United Autosports LMP2
5 #42 COOL Racing LMP2
6 #29 Racing Team Nederland LMP2
7 #38 JOTA LMP2
8 #33 High Class Racing LMP2
9 #47 Cetilar Racing LMP2
10 #92 Porsche GT Team LM-GTE Pro
11 #95 Aston Martin Racing LM-GTE Pro
12 #97 Aston Martin Racing LM-GTE Pro
13 #51 AF Corse LM-GTE Pro
14 #91 Porsche GT Team LM-GTE Pro
15 #71 AF Corse LM-GTE Pro
16 #83 AF Corse LM-GTE Am
17 #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing LM-GTE Am
18 #90 TF Sport LM-GTE Am
19 #57 Team Project 1 LM-GTE Am
20 #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing LM-GTE Am
21 #56 Team Project 1 LM-GTE Am
22 #54 AF Corse LM-GTE Am
23 #62 Red River Sport LM-GTE Am
24 #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2
25 #98 Aston Martin Racing LM-GTE Am
26 #86 Gulf Racing LM-GTE Am
27 #4 ByKolles Racing LMP1
28 #35 Eurasia Motorsport LMP2
29 (DNF) #36 Signatech Alpine Elf LMP2