Toyota shined in the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2014 season after claiming a 1-2 finish with two of their revised Toyota TS040 Hybrids. The race ended 38 minutes before the scheduled time and this was due to the heavy downfall, causing stagnant water in some parts of the track and as a result the race director ordered it to be red flagged. Nevertheless, this did not disparage the thrill that was exhibited by the new LMP1 cars to the 43,000 spectators who attended the race.
The team of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi in the No.8 Toyota TS040 crossed the line first and were awarded with the Royal Automobile Club’s magnificent Tourist Trophy. Their teammates Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima finished in second place in the No.7 car. Third and last place in the LMP1 podium finishes went to the No.20 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.
With all cars having been updated to concur with new FIA regulations, it was a race that allowed the teams to identify their weak spots. And so it did. Both Audi R18 e-trons failed to finish the race due to mechanical problems and the same problems befell the No.14 Porsche 919 Hybrid. Meanwhile in the LMP1-L category, it was only the Swiss Rebellion Racing team with the No.12 Lola B12/60 Toyota of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche that managed to finish the race. The other LMP1-L cars retired after 24 laps due to mechanical issues.
Action in the LMP2 category was super. G-Drive Racing’s No.26 Morgan Nissan, driven by Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal took the overall win. They were followed by the No. 47 KCMG ORECA 03 Nissan. At one time the ORECA team had been leading this category but a drive-through penalty saw them drop down behind G-Drive Racing. The chain in LMP2 was broken by a number of LMGTE-Pro cars, pushing the third car in LMP2 to 13th overall; it was the No.27 Oreca 03 Nissan of SMP Racing team.
GTE classes kept the thrill alive throughout the race. In the upper LMGTE-Pro class, the win went to No.97 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz which finished only 45 seconds ahead of their teammates in the No.92 car. Third place in this category went to the No.97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke. AF Corse Ferrari finished in fourth despite leading the class during the early laps.
In the LMGTE-Am class, the situation was the same as British Aston Martin Racing team claimed a 1-2 finish. They were also celebrating their 10th anniversary. The No.95 Vantage V8 of David Heineimeier Hansson, Nicki Thiim and Kristian Poulsen finished first ahead of their teammates in the No.98 car. Third place went to the No.81 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.
The next FIA WEC race will take place on 3rd May, the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.