The 2017 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season opener at Silverstone saw Toyota emerge victorious at the British circuit, with drivers Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, and Sebastien Buemi each taking the wheel of the new TS050 Hybrid to the chequered flag.
The Toyotas’ comfortable lead in qualifying was reflected in their race pace, as the high downforce configuration TS050s held an advantage over the Porsche 919 racers, with the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard finishing in second in the race.
The #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Jose Maria Lopez crashed at Copse, allowing the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid to challenge the #8 Toyota for the race lead with a strategic pit stop. As the Porsche and the Toyota pitted, the German car paused just for fuel while the Japanese car took on four new tyres and a driver switch, with Nakajima handing over to Buemi.
Hartley emerged from the pit stop ahead of Buemi with an eight-second advantage with just over half an hour’s racing to go, though Buemi was able to pick up the pace and reel the Porsche in at a rate of over one second per lap, with the eventual pass for the lead coming with 12 minutes remaining in the race. The TS050 Hybrid took its first WEC win since 2014, and this Silverstone victory was the #8 car’s first with this trio of ex-F1 drivers.
In the LMP2 class, the #38 car of Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca run by JOTA Sport took a comfortable class win, piloted by Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung. Defending LMP2 class champion Signatech Alpine ran steadily for the first two-thirds of the race, before a couple of full course yellow flag cautions mixed the running order up.
Matthieu Vaxiviere of TDS Racing led the class when racing resumed on the fifth hour, before the #38 Jackie Chan Oreca driven by Jarvis overtook the TDS Racing Oreca in the final hour. In the end, Jarvis took the #38 Jackie Chan Oreca to the class win, by a margin of 19.376 seconds over the #13 Rebellion Oreca driven by Nicolas Prost, Bruno Senna and Julien Canal.
Further afield in the GTE Pro category, it was a Ford and Ferrari melee initially led by the #67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani. A door problem saw the trio fall off the category lead, and the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi marched on. Following two full course yellows, Tincknell brought the #67 Ford GT back into contention, and finished 15 seconds ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.