Over 50,000 spectators enjoyed a stellar Easter weekend of racing at Silverstone for the opening round of the World Endurance Championship, with Toyota Gazoo Racing coming out on top after a gruelling six-hour race.
With BARC organising the meeting for the first time, fans at the Northamptonshire-based circuit were treated to multiple changes of the overall lead of the race, and plenty of close racing all throughout the multi-class series.
Less than quarter of an hour was left on the clock when Toyota number 8, driven by Sebastien Buemi, squeezed past Brendan Hartley in the number 2 Porsche to get the Japanese marque’s season off to a flier.
The number 8’s sister car suffered heavy damage at the hands of Jose Maria Lopez midway through the race, but after some serious work by the team’s mechanics, managed to take the flag 38 laps down.
Both Porsche LMP racing cars closed out the top three, showing good consistency and proving that no team will run away with the championship this year.
In the LMP2 category, contested this season by nine Oreca-07s, racing was as close as many predicted ahead of the weekend – Oliver Jarvis finally steering his Jackie Chan DC Racing machine to first in class.
While Jarvis eased to victory, the fight for the final podium positions was hard-fought. The 13 Rebellion, which challenged for the lead throughout the six hours took second spot, with the TDS Racing following swiftly behind and claiming a podium on their WEC debut.
There was more success for British drivers in GTE-Pro, as Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx took victory in their Ford GT alongside team-mate Luis Felipe Derani.
The victors experienced a late scare as their left-hand side door came open for a second time in the race, but Tincknell drove calmly to take the victory by 15 seconds.
The final two positions on the podium were filled by the 51 Ferrari and the 91 Porsche.
GTE-AM came down to the penultimate corner on the final lap – where Clearwater Racing stormed thorough with a risky strategy to claim a debut WEC victory.
As the final lap approached Pedro Lamy led in the 98 Aston Martin – but was preserving fuel while Miguel Molina and Griffin chased him down.
Molina lunged down the inside, making hefty contact with the Aston Martin, causing both spin and letting Griffin through to claim victory.
The Aston Martin hobbled to the chequered flag, eventually finishing second while the Dempsey-Proton Porsche claimed a shock podium finish.
The main event was backed up by some dramatic racing in the European F3 and World Series V8 3.5 series’.
Callum Ilot claimed his first victory of the season in the final F3 race of the weekend, ahead of race 2 victor Joel Eriksson. Lando Norris, who was victorious in the opening race of the weekend, claimed the final podium spot on Sunday morning.
In the 3.5 Series, there were two race wins over the course of the weekend for Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi, who laid down a marker for the rest of the season.