Brendon Hartley kicked off his 2021 World Endurance Championship season with a comprehensive win in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Co-driver Sebastien Buemi steered the No.8 Toyota Hypercar across the line over a minute clear of the ‘grandfathered’ Alpine LMP car.
Both the No.8 and Alpine traded the lead on numerous occasions, though the strength of the Toyota would ultimately ensure itself the victory.
For Hartley, the win is the Kiwi’s first at Spa and his first triumph since the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hour.
The team were somewhat stifled in the opening stages after Toyota undercut its minimum refueling time, which resulted in a 30-second penalty.
The penalty gifted Alpine the provisional lead, and they and the No.8 traded stints at the head of the field due to different pit strategies.
After storming to pole position yesterday, the No.7 Toyota rounded out the podium after Kamaui Kobaayshi bowled a wide while in the lead and sent the car through the gravel trap at Bruxelles.
The team lost a lap and were then further hindered by a drive-through penalty for a collision with a GTE Porsche.
With only three cars in the Hypercar class, the leading LMP2 car of United Autosport was able to finish fourth overall.
Jaxon Evans, meanwhile, was forced to retire from the race with 30 minutes remaining.
The No.77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche had just been rebuilt following a monstrous crash in qualifying.
Unfortunately, an electrical issue caused Evans to ground to a halt at the end of the Kemmel Straight and he was unable to re-mobilise back to the pitlane.
Porsche claimed bragging rights in GTE-Pro, with the AF Corsa Ferrari team picking up the win in GTE-AM.
The next round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship is the Eight Hours of Portimao on June 13.