Brackley’s Anthony Davidson helped Toyota bag victory at Silverstone on Sunday in the opening round of the 2014 World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The race marked the start of a new season of endurance racing with the leading P1 prototype class boosted with the manufacturer entries from Toyota, AUDI and the returning Le Mans giants, Porsche. Their six cars made for a thrilling spectacle as they battled for the leading positions right from the fall of the Union Flag to signal the start of the six-hour race.
Toyota’s number 8 TS-040 Hybrid, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Sebastien Buemi and Brackley’s Anthony Davidson, proved the most reliable and consistent of the major manufacturers, with both Audi R18 etron quattro cars crashing out.
The Audi team opted to keep their two cars on-track with slick tyres as rain fell across the local venue, and it proved to be a costly mistake as both the number 1 and number 2 cars crashed out.
With Porsche also suffering a retirement for their number 14 919-Hybrid car, it was left to former British Grand Prix winner, Mark Webber, on his debut, to chase the Toyotas hard until the end of the race. However, torrential rain swept across the track with 40 minutes remaining and the organisers were left with no option but to stop the race and declare the result.
Davidson said afterwards: “This is a great start to the 2014 season for Toyota. Winning here at Silverstone is very special and a great feeling. I have won this race with Peugeot and I am delighted to win it again with Toyota. The trophy for this race was the RAC Tourist Trophy and it is a very famous award. I am very pleased to have been able to win it with my team-mates.”
The number 7 Toyota TS-040 Hybrid of Stephane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima and Alexander Wurz finished second with Mark Webber’s Porsche 919-Hybrid a well deserved third - a car he shared with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. Webber said: “This was a solid start to the season for us at Porsche. This was the first race with our new 919-Hybrid car and conditions near the end were far from ideal. To gain a podium finish is a good result and we can look forward to the next race in Spa.”
Matt Griffin and Alvaro Parente finished the race twelfth overall, sixth in the LM GTE Pro class with their Silverstone-based Ram Racing Ferrari 458.
The pairing drove hard against a very strong GT entry in their number 52 car, while Johnny Mowlem, Mark Patterson and Ben Collins finished nineteenth overall and fifth in the LM GTE Am class with their number 53 Ram Racing Ferrari 458.
Porsche scored victory in the LM GTE Pro class with their 911 RSR driven by Marco Holzer, Fred Makowiecki and Richard Leitz, while Aston Martin won the LM GTE Am category with a Vantage V8 driven by Kristian Poulsen, Nicki Thiim and David Heinemeir Hansson.
The LMP2 class was short on entries, due to both Millennium Racing and Strakka Racing withdrawing before the race meeting, with the G Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan of Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla and Julien Canal taking victory.
The FIA World Endurance Championship moves from Silverstone to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for the second round which takes place next weekend.