After two-thirds of the World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Toyota Gazoo Racing are in position for their third win of the season and second consecutive one-two finish.
The number seven Toyota GR010 Hybrid has led since the first hour. Jose Maria Lopez is at the wheel, closing in on the end of his double stint. The sister #8 car, currently piloted by Ryo Hirakawa, is running second.
Porsche Penske Motorsports had at one point been Toyota’s nearest challenger for the overall win – but their leading car in the first two hours has retired from the race.
Two hours and 15 minutes in, the number six Porsche 963 shut off exiting the Bus Stop chicane and came to a stop along the front stretch. Laurens Vanthoor wasn’t sure what had happened, other than the car had ‘completely shut down’ and ‘just went black’. This drama, and a spin from the #4 Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Esteban Guerrieri, brought out a Full Course Yellow. This FCY came out at a bad time for the #8 Toyota, which had to take a five-second emergency fuel stop before making its full-service stop as scheduled.
Then, after three hours and 32 minutes of racing, the number four Vanwall – now in the hands of Jacques Villeneuve – had a cross-class crash with the number 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE of Francesco Castellacci that sent both cars spinning off at Courbe Paul Frere. It brought an end to what was already trending to be another troubled race for Colin Kolles’ privateer team, who had a couple of spins on cold tyres, and a mechanical issue at the start of Villeneuve’s stint.
The number six Porsche, Vanwall, and number 54 Ferrari 488 join two other retirements so far: The number three Cadillac Racing V-Series.R which was eliminated after Renger van der Zande’s massive shunt in the second hour, and the number 10 Vector Sport Oreca LMP2 07 which lost its left rear wheel in the first hour.
Van der Zande has been evaluated and cleared from the circuit medical centre with no injuries, a testament to the safety of modern sports prototype racing cars.
The number 50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P has had a scruffy race after a blinding start in mixed track conditions, but even after a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line at pit exit, it’s now back in the overall podium positions. Miguel Molina successfully fended off the number two Cadillac of Alex Lynn after the last Safety Car restart, and overtook the Penske Porsche of Dane Cameron for third…
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