World Endurance Championship Round 2. Official Test Day, Le Mans, France. June 2018. Image: Nick Holland for SportscarGlobal

For the record, at eleven hours allowing for pit-stops the gap between the lead #7 Toyota Hybrid TS050 in the hands of Jose Marie Lopez had a comfortable 90-sec lead, 60+seconds of which was gifted to the #7 by the actions of Sebastian Buemi in the #8 Toyota who was penalised for speeding in a slow zone.

By twelve hours Fernando Alonso on a night-time quad-stint hauled 15-secs out of that lead, an hour later it was reduced by a further 30-seconds.. In the fourteenth hour (despite the inability of Lopez to respond) the gap tumbled to just 1.7 seconds (with Kaz Nakajima having taken over from Alonso). 

The suggestion is that some of this ‘yo-yo-ing’ is related to out of sync tyre cycles, fresh rubber v. used that need to be re-used as each set of tyres needs to be utilised for a total of two hours a set. So lets  take that at face-value… Then again maybe not, lets ask some questions – 

  • If that had been a competitor catching at that pace would you still have left Jose-Marie Lopez out?
  • If the issue was tyres why did no one say at the time, and instead wait for people to smell a rat and then try to find an excuse?
  • If the only team order is race but with no contact and limit risk to the team result, why not be clear and say that?
  • If you favour one car over the other, what is the shame in being honest with the racing community present?

To speak of manipulation and skull-duggery should not be necessary in sport, it feels dirty and dishonourable, so please we are all adults respect us the racing community and we will respect you.  Obviously the corollary also applies…