The Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, penultimate round of the 2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship, saw a stunning array of weather conditions, but in the end the #8 Toyota shared by Alonso-Buemi-Nakajima took home the win.
"We got it all...rain, sleet, snow, sun, a wet track that dried very quickly...basically all four seasons in one race! It really wasn't easy to drive, but at the end of a race like this one, you have to admit it was exciting! '' says Thomas Laurent, second at the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps at the wheel of the #3 Rebellion. The French driver managed a solid race and demonstrated decisive maneuvering skills. "I wanted this second place finish so much that I kept my wits about me."
The driver line-up Laurent-Berthon-Menezes finished ahead of Petrov-Aleshin-Vandoorne at the wheel of SMP Racing's #11 car. The Belgian driver, who pulled off a remarkable stint at the start of the race, finished his first FIA World Endurance Championship race on the podium, at home.
Sébastien Buemi, race winner with Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima, was pleased with Toyota's win despite how his race unfolded: "We had some radio problems, so when I was supposed to end my stint, I didn't hear it. The sister car also had trouble (a sensor problem that kept it in pit lane for 11 minutes, Ed.), which gave us the win." His teammate Kazuki Nakajima agreed: "It's a good win for the team, especially since we experienced various problems. But we'll learn from them for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it's a difficult race to finish and our next big meet."
There were fierce battles in the LMGTE Pro class despite insane weather conditions, as evidenced by the state of the #97 Aston Martin under the checkered flag. "My car had marks all over it. A BMW made contact even before the green flag, then a Ferrari, then a Ford," described Belgian driver Maxime Martin, who could not have hoped for a better place for his first win with Aston Martin, along with Alex Lynn. "I've driven this track several times during my career, but never in the snow. Strategy was essential. You couldn't make a mistake with the tires because the track dried out very quickly despite the cold temp. You really couldn't see anything, just headlights sometimes. The most dangerous times were restarts when standing water made things complicated.'' Aston Martin's success did not stop Porsche from winning the Manufacturer title in the class, as well as the top step on the LMGTE Am podium thanks to the #77 fielded by Dempsey-Proton Racing.
In LMP2, DragonSpeed's Pastor Maldonado was acutely aware of the extraordinary weather conditions at the circuit during his stints, but he knew he had a car "with a good set-up for different situations. The team did great work and we proved it with this win."
After an almost six-hour battle (the red flag was waved 11 minutes early) against (all) the elements and other competitors, the FIA WEC field is already looking toward the Super Finale, the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, on 15-16 June 2019.