The 2014 WEC season got off to the best possible start overnight after Toyota claimed a dominant 1–2 victory in a rain affected 6 Hours of Silverstone. Two laps behind the winning #8 Toyota TS040 (Davidson, Lapierre, Buemi) was the #20 Porsche 919 (Bernhard, Hartley, Webber). That result marks a promising return to the LMP1 category for Porsche.
“The team did a fantastic job all weekend,” said Anthony Davidson after the victory. “It looked like it would be an epic fight with Audi and Porsche if it had stayed dry, but we knew the rain was coming and we had set our car up for wet conditions.
“We made the right call on tyres, the strategy was just perfect; that’s how you win races.”
Defending champions Audi had a race to forget with both the R18s crashing out of contention. Luca di Grassi was at the wheel when the #1 R18 went out early in proceedings, while the #2 car lasted until mid-race distance having lost time due to a separate incident in the first hour.
The #14 Porsche 919 also went off-track briefly, although no major damage was done. However, its race came to an end early in the second hour due to a “technical problem”. This highlights how valuable the third place for the #20 car was, enabling the team to gather valuable track time and experience in addition to championship points.
In a three horse race, with two established rivals and a new kid on the block, this set of results builds anticipation for the 6 Hours of Spa in two weeks.
The Audis have shown they have raw pace, setting the fastest single lap in both qualifying and the race, and with multiple championships behind them they’re unlikely to repeat the double blunder we saw here at Silverstone.
Toyota has built on its LMP1 experience and this result will give them confidence to carry its momentum to Spa. While Porsche has shown it can have the reliability it needs to keep its more fancied rivals honest.
“It’s been a brilliant day for us,” Mark Webber siad post-race. “I’m happy to have played a small role in the effort that’s gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point.
“Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn’t their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tyres is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases.
“It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”
Official race reports and photos from Toyota, Porsche and Audi can be viewed after the break.
One-Two for Toyota Racing at Silverstone
Silverstone, United Kingdom, 20 Apr 2014 – TOYOTA Racing made the perfect start to the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season with a one-two finish from pole position in the Six Hours of Silverstone.
The 1000PS, four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRID won its very first race in convincing fashion thanks to the #8 of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi who take an early lead in the eight-race World Championship.
The #7 of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima completed TOYOTA Racing’s first-ever one-two finish, with a fine second place despite changing weather.
Track conditions varied from completely dry to torrential rain, which ultimately saw the race red flagged less than 30 minutes before the chequered flag.
Alex started from pole and held the advantage during an exciting opening lap which saw Sébastien move from fifth to third.
The TS040 HYBRIDs were at the heart of the action with several position changes before rain came around the 40-minute mark. Both cars pitted for new tyres, the #7 taking wets and the #8 hybrid intermediates.
With the rain soon easing, hybrid intermediate tyres proved the most effective and Sébastien used his four-wheel drive hybrid system to good effect in building a comfortable lead.
Alex lacked grip on the wets so dropped to third and, after around 90 minutes, handed over the #7 to Kazuki, who switched to slicks for the rapidly-drying track. The #8 did likewise soon after when Nicolas took over from Sébastien.
Conditions remained dry, allowing Nicolas to firmly establish the #8 in the lead, with Kazuki tightening his grip on second in the #7 before swapping with Stéphane soon after the halfway point.
A safety car interrupted the drama briefly, during which time Anthony stepped into the race-leading #8.
Heavy rain hit the track with just over an hour remaining and the team responded by calling both cars in for wet tyres, whilst also swapping drivers; Kazuki replacing Stéphane in the #7 and Sébastien swapping with Anthony in the #8.
The safety car was deployed with 40 minutes left before the race was ended early, with further running impossible in the wet conditions. That confirmed TOYOTA Racing’s sixth win from 15 WEC races, its second consecutive victory following its triumph in the 2013 season finale in Bahrain.
As well as the usual winners’ trophies, the #8 crew also claimed the Royal Automobile Club International Tourist Trophy, first awarded in 1905, while Anthony won the Richard Lloyd Trophy for the highest-placed British Racing Drivers Club member.
The second round of the season comes in just two weeks with the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 3 May.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “That was the perfect start to the season and I would like to thank everyone on the team for achieving this one-two victory for TOYOTA Racing. We have worked extremely hard over the winter to prepare the TS040 HYBRID and this is a great reward. We had a big and very enthusiastic crowd here at Silverstone which gave us a nice atmosphere, so I am pleased we could put on a good show for the fans. The weather was a real challenge but the team stayed alert and took the right decisions on strategy. Everyone on the team really earned this result but it is a close fight with Audi and Porsche so we have to continue pushing for the next race at Spa.”
TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima)
Race: 2nd, 166 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 44.326secs
Alex Wurz: “That was a really tough race. We saw lots of changing conditions, but it is quite cool actually to test yourself and master such conditions. It is a fantastic result for TOYOTA Racing; a one-two to lead the World Championship. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better result for the team. We also see the competition is very close so it is going to be very tough and we have to push very hard to stay ahead.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “That was an amazing start to the season for TOYOTA Racing. The team did a great job and also my team-mates drove really well in very difficult conditions. Alex was flying at the start and Kazuki also. I had a good stint. I took no risks and made sure we could complete the result, get the podium and score the points. That was the important thing. It’s a really good day for the team.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “I am happy with our job today. I was pushing as much as was possible considering the conditions but when the gap stretched to more than one minute to the #8 I knew it would be difficult. It’s a great day for the team and a fantastic start to the season. We can be really proud of our first one-two finish; the whole team worked so hard for this and they all deserve to celebrate.”
TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre, Sébastien Buemi)
Race: 1st, 167 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 44.646secs
Anthony Davidson: “It has been a fantastic weekend and it is brilliant to win my home race. The team did a fantastic job all weekend. It looked like it would be an epic fight with Audi and Porsche if it had stayed dry, but we knew the rain was coming and we had set our car up for wet conditions. We made the right call on tyres, the strategy was just perfect; that’s how you win races. It is particularly special to also win the Tourist Trophy and the Richard Lloyd Trophy. It is a fantastic achievement and I couldn’t have wished for a better weekend.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “It has been very close since the beginning of the weekend but the team really made a difference today with the strategy. It was spot-on and delivered a dream start to the season for the whole team. Even though we had a big margin it was still nerve-wracking at the end as anything can happen in such conditions. The team did a good job on strategy and this is a nice reward. The first race of the season is always a special occasion so I am particularly proud to win today. It means a lot, not only to win the race but also the Tourist Trophy and join such impressive names.”
Sébastien Buemi: “I am really happy with this result and it is a big credit to the team that we can win in the TS040 HYBRID’s first race. The conditions were very difficult at the end; it was really wet and hard to stay on track even behind the safety car. So I think the race director made the right call to end the race a little early. In general the car felt good and this gives us confidence for the rest of the season. But the competition was close and we can expect another big fight in Spa. We will enjoy this great result and quickly focus on the next race.”
About TOYOTA Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship
TOYOTA first competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing. TOYOTA cars have raced in 15 Le Mans 24 Hours races, achieving a best result of second place on four occasions (1992, 1994, 1999 & 2013). TOYOTA entered the revived WEC in 2012, as TOYOTA Racing, with its first hybrid LMP1 car, the TS030 HYBRID. That car competed for two seasons, winning five races. It was designed and built by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG), where the race team is based. TMG is the former home of TOYOTA’s World Rally and Formula 1 works teams, and was responsible for design and operation of TOYOTA’s TS020 Le Mans car in 1998-99. TMG now combines motorsport participation with work as a high-performance engineering services provider to third party companies, as well as the TOYOTA family.
Sports Car World Championship WEC, round 1: Silverstone/Great Britain, LMP1
Porsche 919 Hybrid race debut was a success
Stuttgart. The eagerly awaited race debut of the innovative Porsche 919 Hybrid in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) was a success. The highly complex Le Mans Prototype took a podium at its first attempt in the action packed six hour race at Silverstone (Great Britain). Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) came third in the Porsche 919 Hybrid after 165 laps on the 5.891 kilometre long track. The race was red flagged because of heavy rain 24 minutes before the planned six hours were completed. Webber brought the car home behind the safety car. The sister car of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) had to retire after 1 hour 15 minutes because of a technical problem. The overall victory went to Toyota drivers Sébastien Buemi (CH), Anthony Davidson (GB) and Nicolas Lapierre (FR).
Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development of Porsche AG: “I am really proud. This was a proper comeback to the highest class of endurance racing. Preparation, operation, discipline in the garage and at the wheel of the two Porsche 919 Hybrids have been very good. The race itself was fascinating and this shows me that the new WEC rules work well – despite or even because of the great technical freedom. Three manufacturers, three innovative hybrid systems and exciting competition on the highest level. For me this is motorsport that contributes to road car development.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Regarding our pace, I’m not too worried because the entire project is in its very early stages. The retirement of car no. 14 is annoying for all of us. With car no. 20 we had an entirely trouble free six hour race. Returning home with a trophy from the very first race is a great result for us and I think we should all sleep well tonight.”
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1: “Considering how complex this completely new technology is, it is very positive to have finished the race with one car. The no. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid ran trouble free. We will have to have a long look into the reasons for the retirement of car no. 14.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal LMP1: “We have been a strong team here and have done a straightforward job on the operational side. I want to thank all the guys and girls here at the track and back home at Weissach. Third place for the no. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid is a well deserved reward for the hard work done since the first roll out in June 2013. During the race we have made the right calls and our drivers didn’t make any mistakes in the most difficult conditions. This was a first class job.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid #20
Timo Bernhard: “We could hardly have asked for more. To pick up a podium at the very first attempt at Porsche’s return to the top class of Le Mans prototypes is just great. It was very important to finish the race and make the right calls. This way we have gathertred loads of data. I had a good start and managed to stay close to the cars in front of me. When the rain set in we were quite competitive and were able to close the gap quickly. At my pit stop we took exactly the right decision and went for intermediate tyres. This proved to be the perfect call. Many thanks to the entire team. We have come a long way.”
Brendon Hartley: “It was an amazing feeling to bring the car back after my very first stint as a Porsche factory driver and hand it over to Mark. I had a difficult middle stint with rain on the windscreen. It was difficult to tell where the track was wet and where the line was dry. I didn’t take much of a risk in terms of traffic, and I was careful with the tyres too. I am delighted with how this first part of my job went.”
Mark Webber: “It’s been a brilliant day for us. I’m happy to have played a small role in the effort that’s gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point. Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn’t their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tyres is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases. It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid #14
Neel Jani: “Initially I had a good start, but in the first corner I went straight on and lost some positions. I had a bit of an issue with understeer, which made it difficult to follow the cars in front of me. On lap 24 I had a problem on the front left wheel and I had to pit again. The team got the car back on track within 16 minutes, which was a fantastic effort. Unfortunately on lap 30 we had to retire due to another problem.”
The Porsche 919 Hybrid
With two different energy recovery systems the Porsche 919 Hybrid is the most complex race car the sports car manufacturer has ever built, and serves as the fastest mobile research laboratory for future road cars. The lightweight prototype is trimmed for extreme performance and efficiency. Besides the kinetic energy recovery system (MGU-K) under braking, the 919 Hybrid recuperates thermal exhaust energy (MGU-H) when accelerating. The combination of these two systems means a step into unknown territory for Porsche and a unique feature in the entire WEC. When the driver recalls the stored energy from the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery packs, an electric motor drives the two front wheels with more than 250 hp. This power adds to the over 500 hp combustion engine (downsizing 2.0 litres V4-cylinder, turbocharged with direct injection) and this way the two systems result in temporary all-wheel drive.
Home of British Motor Racing
You can’t miss the message that Silverstone is the Home of British Motor Racing – the slogan welcomes you in huge letters at the main gate. The first circuit was built in 1948 in the grounds of a military airbase. Today’s track layout features a 5.891 km long and flat Grand Prix circuit with 18 bends. Many of their names are mentioned with great respect by drivers. For example the great combination of Maggots-Becketts-Chapel, which leads onto the Hangar straight, ending at the sharp right hander of Stowe corner. Silverstone is located in Northamptonshire, 130 kilometers Northwest of London.
World Champions Audi unfortunate in WEC season opener after strong performance
- Accidents end the race of both Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars
- Fastest lap time in qualifying and the race for Audi
- Intensive work phase before the second WEC round in two weeks
Ingolstadt/Silverstone, April 20, 2014 – For Audi, the season opener of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone began with good performances, but the race ended in disappointment. Both Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars retired due to accidents in which the drivers sustained no injuries.
The World Champions had started strongly. At the beginning of the new sports car era which is governed by efficiency regulations, Audi proved its technological expertise in the battle against two challengers. World Champion Tom Kristensen (DK), sharing car #1 with Loïc Duval (F) and Lucas di Grassi (BR), managed setting the fastest single lap in qualifying on Saturday. A day later André Lotterer (D), on posting the fastest race lap, showed that the diesel hybrid sports car from Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm is fast across a single lap despite a restrictive rating.
In the thrilling early phase of the 6-hour race, Lotterer advanced from position four on the grid to the front within 22 minutes. Rainshowers setting in made for extremely critical track conditions in the first hour. On the slippery track, Lucas di Grassi lost control of his car and crashed into the guard rails. The Audi factory driver managed to head for the pits under his own power. However, Audi Sport Team Joest discovered damage to the monocoque and took car #1 out of the race.
When André Lotterer slipped into a gravel trap on the wet track on lap 34, car #2 lost four laps in the rescue operation. The 2012 World Champion turned over his race car after 1h 51m of driving time in fourth place to Benoît Tréluyer (F). When the rain became heavier the Frenchman received an intermediate tire version from partner Michelin. Twelve laps later, Tréluyer, in the fast Copse corner, slipped off track and damaged the front of his R18 e-tron quattro too severely for heading back to the pit lane.
With that, Audi experienced a sad premiere. The 2012 and 2013 World Champions had never suffered the retirement of all its race cars in any of the previous WEC races. The last sports car race in which damage resulting from an accident prevented Audi from finishing was the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in the 2011 season. With 13 victories in 24 races (success rate: 54 percent) the R18 has set the benchmark in its era since 2011.
For Audi Sport and Audi Sport Team Joest, a race against time has begun. In only two weeks, round two of the WEC is on the agenda at Spa (B). By that time, the damaged cars #1 and #2 have to be prepared from scratch again. In addition, in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours, a third R18 e-tron quattro, shared by Filipe Albuquerque (P) and Marco Bonanomi (I), is being prepared.
Quotes after the race
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “Losing both cars in a race due to accidents is extremely bitter. It’s the first time since Road Atlanta 2011 that we’re going home from a race with the Le Mans prototypes without having scored a single point. But the performance at the beginning of the race was good. When it started to rain we trusted our weather radar and waited too long before changing the tires. That was our mistake and, in retrospect, an unnecessary risk. It really hit us at full force: Both cars slipped off track. The car of Lucas (di Grassi) was so heavily damaged that we had to take it out of the race. André (Lotterer) was able to continue driving but lost a lot of time. Although afterwards we played it safe with the tires and Benoît Tréluyer was running on intermediates that worked well, he slipped off track, too. As both cars were heavily damaged, we’re in for a real marathon run before the next WEC race at Spa.”
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “The beginning of the race weekend at Silverstone was the way we’d imagined it to be. The field was close together and we were able to confirm our performance in qualifying by setting the fastest single lap. The fastest race lap goes to the R18 as well. That both cars didn’t finish is – fortunately – an unusual situation for us. But I’m sure this will bring the team even closer together and that we’re going to do everything within our power to properly prepare the cars again for Spa and strike back there.”
Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “A total loss is the worst-case scenario. We’re going home with zero points. We’d have wished to finish the race, also in order to gather experience. Of course the conditions were extremely difficult and with regard to the tires we made a choice that proved too risky. Losing both cars and having to pack up shortly after the first half of the race was absolutely not what we’d imagined. The positive thing is: The car is good – that was obvious. Up to our retirement we also did a pretty good job of coping with the regulations, even though there’s still a lot to learn. For the guys, having to prepare two cars again from scratch, is going to be really rough now. There’s not much time left until Spa – where we’ll have to try and do better.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “The weekend showed a lot of positive things for us. The car was very fast in qualifying, as well as in the early phase of the race. We were in a good basic position before the rain set in. But then we unfortunately made the wrong decision of continuing to drive on slicks for such a long time. Of course I’m happy that nothing happened to Ben in his accident. We’d have obviously liked to finish the race and take home points. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible today. A few things went wrong today that normally never happen at Audi. Scoring no points at all is something that hasn’t happened in a long time.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “I had a good start and quickly took the lead. In the beginning, it was also real fun. But, unfortunately, you’ll have days like this at some point in time. That’s very unfortunate, but we’ve got to live with it. Luckily, nothing happened to Lucas and Benoît. The good news is that our car is fast, which our fastest race laps has shown as well.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “As far as the performance of our car goes, we can be pleased. But, unfortunately, we had two accidents in the race. Obviously, not finishing with either car is not what we aim for. In such wet conditions, it’s hard to name a cause. Whether it was the driver, the general track conditions, the curbs in a particular corner or the car is hard to say in such conditions. We’re going to analyze this in detail over the next few days. As a driver, you can make a mistake, but we need to find out the cause and ensure that something like this won’t happen to us at Le Mans.”
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We hadn’t expected the rain to become so heavy, that’s why we continued to run on slicks. But, unfortunately, the track was too cold and wet for the tires. That’s why I had an accident in which the monocoque was so severely damaged that we had to give up. This wasn’t a good day for us, although in dry conditions the prospects had been promising at the beginning of the race. There were a few nice duels at the front of the field. It won’t be an easy year, from now on we can’t afford to make any more mistakes. But the season is still long and I’m confident that Audi will be successful again in the next race and we’re going to score many points.”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Today, unfortunately, the luck you need in racing left us in difficult weather conditions. I’m not blaming anybody because it was raining heavily while we were still running on slicks. We’d expected the rain to end soon. That’s why my team-mates didn’t pit. Unfortunately, the rain wouldn’t stop and so our car had an accident and subsequently our sister car too. But on a positive not, we were very competitive this weekend. From now on, we mustn’t lose any points anymore.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Lucas was driving an excellent stint. Unfortunately, our race was much too short after two promising days of practice and qualifying. The conditions became very dangerous in the rain. Our car spun off track. These things can happen. We need to avoid getting into such situations in the future. Unfortunately, the World Championship started for us with the worst possible result.”
- Buemi/Davidson/Lapierre (Toyota), 167 laps in 5h 22m 42.296s
- Nakajima/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) – 1 lap
- Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) – 2 laps
- Beche/Heidfeld/Prost (Lola-Toyota) – 8 laps
- Canal/Pla/Rusinov (Morgan-Nissan) – 13 laps
- Bradley/Howson/Matsuda (Oreca-Nissan) – 15 laps
- Holzer/Lietz/Makowiecki (Porsche) – 20 laps
- Bergmeister/Pilet/Tandy (Porsche) – 20 laps
- Mücke/Turner (Aston Martin) – 20 laps
- Bruni/Vilander (Ferrari) – 20 laps