TOYOTA’S BUEMI ENDURES
ROUND 1 of the 2017 World Endurance Championship has gone to Toyota, which snatched victory from Porsche in the closing laps of the six-hour race at Silverstone.
Former Toro Rosso F1 driver Sebastien 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 the RAC Tourist Trophy.
Teammates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose María Lopez 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 is now preparing 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 marks the first time Toyota has entered three hybrid-powered LMP1 cars, with Stephane Sarrazin, Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre joining the other crews.
Sebastien Buemi on his way to victory at Silverstone.