The Rebellion Racing R13 Gibson of Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes won the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 19 August to claim the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy. The result came following the dramatic exclusion of both Toyotas, which had finished one-two on the road in front of a crowd of more than 60,000 enthusiasts as the World Endurance Championship made its annual visit to the UK.
It looked as if Grand Prix legend Fernando Alonso had joined the likes of Tazio Nuvolari, Graham Hill and Sir Stirling Moss as a winner of the prestigious Tourist Trophy. With Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi alongside him in the number eight car, Alonso got the better of the sister Toyota after a race-long battle. Matters were settled only during the final hour of an absorbing contest, when Buemi overtook Kamui Kobayashi in the number seven car and pulled out a 19-second advantage by the time the chequered flag fell.
Following post-race scrutineering, however, both of the dominant Toyotas were excluded when their skid blocks deflected during a load test. That handed victory to Rebellion Racing, Beche having survived first-corner contact with Stephane Sarrazin that caused both cars to spin.
For much of the race, their Rebellion team-mates Neel Jani and André Lotterer had looked comfortable in third position – which would have become first following the exclusion of the Toyotas – but a late pitstop to carry out repairs meant that they were overhauled by the Beche / Laurent / Menezes car.
Home favourite Jenson Button was sharing an LMP1 car with Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin, but sadly the SMP Racing entry was forced to retired during the first hour with engine problems.
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.
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:
1 Beche / Laurent / Menezes – Rebellion Racing 6h 2m 10.579s
2 Jani / Lotterer – Rebellion Racing 192 laps
3 Sarrazin / Orudzhev – SMP Racing 192 laps
4 Tung / Aubry / Richelmi – Jackie Chan DC Racing 185 laps
5 Jaafar / Tan / Jeffri – Jackie Chan DC Racing 185 laps
6 Lapierre / Negrao / Thiriet – Signatech Alpine Matmut 183 laps