Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed both the overall win and the Royal Automobile Club’s Tourist Trophy in the thrilling opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone in April 2017. The six-hour endurance race had its fair share of unpredictable weather and drama, but it was the #8 TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima which claimed a late race victory.
More than 50,000 visitors flocked to the circuit over the weekend to witness an epic battle between Porsche and Toyota – the first season without their Audi rivals on the grid – as they fought for the win in the race which went right down to the wire.
When the #2 Porsche LMP1 Team 919 emerged from its final pit stop, with 30 minutes remaining, its lead was only eight seconds. As more drizzle fell Sebastien Buemi hunted down the lead with a series of quick lap times, and eventually made a dramatic move on Brendon Hartley to snatch the lead in the final 12 minutes of the six hours to seal their victory. As the chequered flag dropped, only 6.173 seconds separated the two teams.
Anthony Davidson (TS050 Hybrid #8) said: ‘It’s such a privilege and an honour to win this Trophy again. When I came to the Club a few weeks ago for the Tourist Trophy Dinner, the Trophy was sitting on the table in front of me and I was eying it up, desperate to win it again; and here we are. Thanks also to my teammates Kazuki and Sebastien for their hard work.’
In second position was the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, and completing the rostrum in third position was the #1 Porsche of Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and André Lotterer, who had lead the battle for three-quarters of the race.
Presenting the Tourist Trophy to the Toyota trio, Ben Cussons, of the Royal Automobile Club, said: ‘It was yet another thrilling start to the WEC season. The speed and pace of the LMP cars continues to impress year on year, with truly outstanding and fierce competition from the field. Toyota Gazoo Racing took an impressive win against such tough opposition. We are delighted that they have secured the Tourist Trophy for the second time in its illustrious history and we also congratulate Kazuki Nakajima on becoming the first Japanese driver to lift the Trophy.’
The Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy was first awarded in 1905. The winner of that race was John Napier driving an 18 hp Arrol-Johnston in a race covering four laps of a fearsome 52-mile open road loop around the Isle of Man. His average speed was 34 mph. At Silverstone on Sunday, the winning Toyota averaged around 139 mph and also set the fastest lap time in the first practice.
The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) offers a multitude of opportunities to engineers, teams, manufacturers and drivers to compete in a high profile and prestigious calendar of events, based around the showcase of the sport worldwide – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Much of the prestige of the Tourist Trophy is embodied in its relevance. Even in 1905 the emphasis was not purely on speed but also on fuel economy, making it an enormous challenge on all fronts to the teams and drivers taking part and it remains so to this day.
6 Hours of Silverstone results: 1st – #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing 197 laps2nd – #2 Porsche (Bernhard / Bamber / Hartley) 6.173secs 3rd – #1 Porsche (Jani / Lotterer / Tandy) 46.956secs 4th – #38 DC Racing (Tung / Jarvis / Laurent) 13 laps 5th – #31 Rebellion (Canal / Prost / Senna) 13 laps 6th – #28 TDS (Perrodo / Vaxiviere / Collard 14 laps 23rd – #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing 38 laps