TWO-time Formula 1 world champion, Fernando Alonso, has won on his LMP1 debut in the World Endurance Championship.
The Spaniard, along with his #8 Toyota teammates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, claimed a dominant victory, leading from pole until the chequered flag.
Alonso’s debut victory in WEC was aided when the sister #7 TS050 LMP1 hybrid, which was originally meant to start from pole, was penalised and began the race from the pitlane, one lap down.
Fighting with one arm tied behind their back, the #7 Toyota drivers of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez were on the lead-lap by half-race distance, and eventually finished in second place.
The quickest non-hybrid LMP1 was two laps down on the Toyotas. It seems that elusive Le Mans victory is all but guaranteed for the Japanese manufacturer this year.
Ford claimed first blood in GTE, beating Porsche to the line in a hard-fought race.
Aussie’s Matt Campbell and Alex Davison finished 25th and 30th respectively.
The race was punctuated by two heavy crashes at Spa’s infamous Eau Rouge-Radillion complex, with Harry Tincknell’s Ford GT crashing head-on into the barriers early.
Matevos Isaakyan in the #17 SMP Racing LMP2 car then made heavy contact at the five-hour mark, prompting a safety car and a tense fight to the flag.
Alonso’s victory at Spa-Francorchamps is his first win in the Belgian forest since his Formula 3000 days, making it 18 years between drinks.
The McLaren F1 driver is moonlighting in the World Endurance Championship this year as he chases the elusive ‘Motorsport Triple Crown’, of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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Having attempted the Indianapolis 500 last year, Alonso has signed on as a factory Toyota driver in WEC and will have two cracks at the 24 Hours of Le Mans during the 2018/19 Super season.
Juan Pablo Montoya is Alonso’s main living rival in achieving the feat, having claimed victories at both the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 in his career. The Colombian now races in the IMSA US sportscar series.
Graham Hill is the only driver in history to have won the Triple Cown.