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#8 Toyota Leads After Opening Hour At Spa

Van der Garde the man of the hour, storming through the field from the back of the grid

Toyota leads the 2020 WEC 6 Hours of Spa after the opening hour, the #8 TS050 of Sebastien Buemi leading Mike Conway in the #7. The two Toyotas quickly took control on the first green flag lap of the race in tricky conditions trackside from the pole-sitting #1 Rebellion.

Heavy rain pre-race meant a safety car start was required, allowing the drivers to get used to the conditions before getting up to speed. After 15 minutes the race got going and there were changes up and down the order.

In LMP1, Norman Nato struggled in the #1 Rebellion, falling to fourth (last) in class, even behind the ByKolles CLM of Tom Dillman. But by the end of the hour, after the first stops, Rebellion was back up to third after a electronics issue with the rev limiter on the CLM cost Dillman valuable time before the first stops. Interestingly, with the track drying, Rebellion and the #8 Toyota gambled and remained on full wets after the first stop. Will it pay off? Are more rain showers on the way?

Meanwhile, up front, it wasn’t totally normal service for Toyotas, as the #8 suffered a loss of hybrid power before Buemi came in for the first stop. The Swiss was heard complaining of the issue on the radio shortly after a brief off track excursion. The issue though, appears to be intermittent as the #8 still leads the #7, by 28 seconds heading into Hour 2.

In LMP2, United Autosports is in control, Filipe Albuquerque leading from the pole for the entire opening sequence before switching for slicks on his first trip to pit lane. Behind though, Giedo van Der Garde was the man of the hour. The Dutchman, from the very back of the grid after Racing Team Nederland failed to set a combined average in Qualifying, rose to second in the class, slaloming his way through the other LMP2 runners, on his hunt for the lead. He is now within 10 seconds of Albuquerque and hungry for more before handing over to his teammates, Job van Uitert and Frits van Eerd.

Third in the running is Andre Negrao, after a steady opening hour for the Alpine team, ahead of Ricardo Gonzalez in the JOTA ORECA. High Class Racing’s 07 Gibson is fifth, with Will Stevens’s JCDC ORECA seventh.

GTE Pro was thrilling for the entire opening 60 minutes. Alessandro Pier Guidi rose to the head of the field from fifth in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO, the Italian making it look easy on the soaked track.

Behind him are the two Porsches, Richard Lietz putting the #91 Porsche second with a bold move at the end of the hour on his teammate Kevin Estre in the #92 pole-sitting 911 RSR 19 into Eau Rouge after a lengthy duel.

The two Aston Martin Racing Vantage AMRs have struggled in the wet thus far, both cars looking tough to handle under braking, both Maxime Martin and Marco Sorensen having off-track excursions. They now sit fifth and sixth behind the #71 Ferrari, the #97 Aston of Martin ahead of Sorensen in the #95.

Will a lengthy spell with dry conditions swing the pendulum back though for Aston? The #95 crew will hope so, as a sixth place finish will put a significant dent in their points lead.

Egidio Perfetti leads GTE Am at the start of Hour 2 in the #56 Project 1 Porsche, ahead of Christian Ried in the Dempsey Proton Racing 911. It’s. Porsche 1-2-3-4 in the class, the 911 RSR clearly the car to have in these conditions, as the #57 Project 1 Posche of Ben Keating sits third, with Lucas Leveret in the #88 Proton example fourth. Best of the rest is the TF Sport Aston Martin, Salih Yoluc telling WEC TV that the car is struggling in the wet conditions.

Five to go! At the time of writing, the safety car then came out at the beginning of the second hour, after Paul Dalla Lana had an off into the gravel at Piff Paff, requiring the circuit vehicles to make an experience to extract the #98 out of the gravel.