I’ve got this weekend off, so I actually got to watch a WEC race for a change. Today’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps did not disappoint. There was a good fight between the Audis for the LMP1 and overall victory and the #7 Toyota was in the fight as well before it suffered a hybrid system failure that put it out of the race just over half-way through. The #1 Audi won over the #2 Audi with two terrific stints from Andre Lotterer; he started the car and made a lap 1 turn 1 error but quickly came back from P5 to take the lead before suffering a tire puncture that forced an early stop. A very fast second stint by Lotterer saw him set fastest lap (2:00.435) and reclaim the race lead. The LMP2 race wasn’t bad either, with 3 cars finishing on the lead lap but featuring a very scary crash by the #25 ADR-Delta in Eau Rouge. The car appeared to have a left rear suspension failure going into Eau Rouge, with the car snapping around making hard contact with the tire wall; thankfully Antonio Pizzonia walked away from it. The GTE Pro class race started out good but eventually was decided by penalties. The GTE Pro cars seemed to specialize in collecting them today for a number of reasons, primarily not staying between the lines and pit penalties. GTE Am was somewhat disappointing; the #81 8-Star Ferrari won by a lap with P1-P5 all being separated by a lap at the finish.
On the surface, it looks like it Audi has everything going for them going into Le Mans next month and Toyota has reason to be worried but I’m not so sure. If I’m Audi, I saw several things to be concerned about going into Le Mans. Toyota did suffer a hybrid system failure on the new car that caused the brakes to overheat but there were positives to take away. The #7 2013 spec Toyota looked very good under acceleration. Even though the Audis were faster over an entire lap, the Toyota was able to out accelerate them at the start as well as out of the turns and through traffic. The biggest thing I took away from the race was the ability of the Toyotas to go longer on fuel stints; they consistently went a number of laps longer than the Audis. Over the course of a 6 hour race it didn’t seem to make a difference but no doubt it would during a 24 hour race.
It looks like the LMP1 and GTE Pro classes are shaping up to be thrilling fights in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I can’t wait!!