TOY­OTA’S BUEMI EN­DURES

Weekend Courier - - Driveway -

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.

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