Fernando Alonso has swapped open-wheel racing for closed cockpits this weekend ahead of the first round of his 2018/19 World Endurance Championship ‘Super Season’ campaign.
The Spaniard, who will be racing with in the #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID alongside former Formula 1 drivers Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, topped the timesheets in Free Practice 1 for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Belgian Grand Prix.
The trio delivered a lap time of 1:58.392, two tenths ahead of the rival #7 Toyota sister car.
Toyota also headed Free Practice 2 later in the day with the #7 car of endurance veteran Mike Conway, former Japanese F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi and Argentine José María López clearing the #8 entry by six-tenths of a second.
The two Toyotas are the only two hybrid powered cars in the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) field this year after Porsche and Audi both left to focus on other racing series, particularly the Formula E championship from 2019. Their unique entry means they have a fantastic chance at the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hour event to help Alonso in his quest to claim the ‘Triple Crown’.
Meanwhile, ex-Formula 1 driver Pastor Maldonado led the LMP2 class timesheets during his first WEC session, posting a fastest time of 2:03.494 in the #31 DragonSpeed Oreca; he held a 0.6-second margin over the rest of that class.
The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is the first round of the 2018/19 WEC Super season with eight rounds spanning across fourteen months. The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hour will be the deciding race for the upcoming season.
The unique Super season will only be a one-off as the WEC and its governing body the FIA decided to make the 24 Hours of Le Mans the deciding race of every championship from 2019.
Image via Toyota Racing