Mike Conway resumed his FIA World Endurance Championship campaign in style this weekend, taking victory in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in a highly competitive Hypercar field.
Multiple incidents, changing weather and close battles throughout the 37-car field entertained a 72,000-strong crowd as a record 13 Hypercars fought for supremacy around the spectacular 7.004km Spa circuit, located just 120km from the team’s base in Cologne, Germany.
Mike and the #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team continued their impressive start to the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship season, winning the race from pole position in the GR010 HYBRID.
Particularly impressive was how Mike expertly managed the start of the six-hour event, leading the way on dry tyres despite light rain while all of his competitors were on wets. Keeping pace with the leading pack, Mike soon had a grip advantage and charged through the field from sixth into the lead in just over a lap after a safety car restart.
Maintaining a strong pace, Mike was able to pull away from his rivals extending his lead to 30 seconds.
A further incident resulted in another safety car which closed the field, meaning that there was little distance between the sister cars.
Mike handed the reigns to team-mate, José Maria López, who was able to keep the sister car at bay. Another safety car set up a grandstand finish between the two GR010 HYBRIDs with very little separating the pair.
With 45 minutes of the race remaining, the teams made their final pit stops, with the #8 car resuming the race in the lead, before a thrilling overtake at Raidillon from Kamui Kobayashi put the #7 car back in the lead.
The #7 crew were able to finish P1, 16.637secs ahead of the sister #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar to complete a second one-two for the Japanese manufacturer this season.
After the conclusion of round three, Mike currently sits in 2nd place in the Drivers’ Championship standings, just five points behind the championship leader.
Speaking after the race, Mike said:
“It was a crazy race but a great result for both cars. It was a tricky call at the beginning on the tyres but we knew it probably wasn’t going to rain again. We just had to survive as best we could. I lost a lot of positions but when the track dried, we had the right tyres and I picked off the guys ahead. The race went well but it was hard because as soon as we built a gap, it was eroded by a safety car. We made some good calls and Kamui and José did mega stints, pushing all the way to the end. Car #8 did well to finish second, so I am really happy to get such a result for the team.”
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 10-11 June.