WEC: Seconds short of a win at Spa for Conway

9th May 2017

Mike Conway finished second at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, narrowly missing out on the win by just 1.992 seconds to the sister TOYOTA GAZOO Racing car, the #8 TS050 HYBRID. The one-two finish is TOYOTA’s first since 2014 and takes them into the lead of the manufacturer’s World Championship.

Following a challenging start to the Championship at Mike’s home race of Silverstone, he travelled to the legendary Belgian circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. It was a positive start to the weekend, with the #7 TS050 HYBRID topping the time sheets in Free Practice 1 and 2, and second behind sister car #8 by only five thousandths of a second in Free Practice 3.

Despite having dominated the earlier sessions, pole position went to rivals Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer in the #1 Porsche. Mike’s time put the #7 TS050 Hybrid third in the first run with a 1.53.911 and Kamui Kobayashi was on course for pole until his lap was completely disrupted when Dominik Kraihamer in the privateer LMP1 car from Bykolles spun in front of him. Kamui’s tyres had already passed their best as he started his next lap and a 1.55.476 was the best time he could muster, giving the #7 TS050 HYBRID an average time of 1.54.693 and second fastest overall.

Mike took the first stint of the race in the #7 car and immediately put the #1 Porsche under pressure, taking the lead on lap ten at Radillon. Mike began to create a gap and held the lead until he pitted for the driver change. Kamui continued to extend the lead as the race passed half distance, but two full course yellows came with unfortunate timing, costing the #7 TS050 HYBRID the race.

The #86 Gulf Porsche caused a full course yellow after spinning on the pit straight.  By this time, Kamui was already in the pits for the driver change, costing the #7 valuable time and gifting the #8 TS050 HYBRID sister car the lead.

Mike was rapidly gaining on the #8, setting two consecutive fastest laps, when a crash at the entry of Stavelot brought on another full course yellow.  Once again unfortunate timing as Mike had just pitted to pass the car to Kamui, costing the #7 more valuable time.

Kamui set about closing the gap in the final stages of the race as light rain began to fall. Sébastien Buemi in the #8 car took the chequered flag with Kamui close behind for a TOYOTA one-two.

The Thunderhead-sponsored driver commented on the eventful race:

“The car was good all weekend and the team have done a great job. We have been fast and really dialled into this place. The first part of the race we were quick and managed to build a nice lead, but the two Full Course Yellows were unfortunate. It is a result for the #8 and for the team to get a 1-2.”

The next race for Mike is the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, where Mike and the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team will be hoping to improve on their second place in 2016.

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