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Toyota TS040 sweeps FIA WEC opener at Silverstone

Toyota claimed first blood in the new era of the World Endurance Championship with a dominant 1-2 finish at Silverstone.

Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre took victory by a clear lap over the sister TS040 Hybrid shared by Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin at the end of a race that was red-flagged just under 30 minutes before its scheduled finish courtesy of heavy rain.

The #8 car triumphed courtesy of the decision to put it on intermediate tires when light rain started to fall late in the opening hour of the six-hour event. The #7, which had been ahead of its sister car when they pitted, was sent out on full wets, which proved to be the wrong decision.

"We are so delighted to finish first and second – what a great start," exclaimed Buemi. "It was really tricky at the end; I think the race director made the correct decision to stop the race."

Porsche claimed a podium on its return to top-level sports car racing with the 919 Hybrid. Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley took third, finishing two laps down on the winner and one down on the second-placed Toyota.

The second Porsche, shared by Neel Jani, Roman Rusinov and Marc Lieb, failed to finish the race. The car needed suspension repairs after Jani lost the left front wheel, and then slowed with an unspecified hydraulic problem soon after rejoining.

Audi had a day to forget: both its new R18 e-tron quattros retired after accidents. Lucas di Grassi crashed at Abbey in the light drizzle at the end of the opening hour when running third. The Brazilian was able to get the car back to the pits, but damage to a front suspension pick-up prevented it from rejoining.

The #2 car had already lost time when Andre Lotterer spun at Stowe on the damp track and then Benoit Treluyer lost it at Copse and hit the inside barrier. The Frenchman managed to get the car going, but with the front suspension severely damaged only managed to drive the car straight into deep gravel from which there was no way out.

Porsche dominated the GTE Pro class after rebuffing an early challenge from the lead AF Corse Ferrari.

The #92 Manthey Porsche 911 RSR driven by Frederic Makowiecki, Marco Holzer and Richard Lietz took the laurels after getting ahead of its sister car shared by Nick Tandy, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet when both cars pitted shortly before the safety car came out with 40 minutes to go.

LMP2 honors went to the OAK-run G-Drive Racing Morgan-Nissan shared by Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal. It came back from a double early delay to fix broken headlights during the first of two safety-car periods of the race to get on terms with the KCMG ORECA-Nissan 03 driven by Tsugio Matsuda, Matt Howson and Richard Bradley.

Aston Martin Racing finished one-two in GTE Am, the Vantage shared by Kurt Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson leading home the sister Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard car.

Toyota TS040 sweeps FIA WEC opener at Silverstone