WEC: Aston Martin Racing victorious in both the LMGTE Pro and Am class at 6hrs of Spa
May 2nd 2015 – In LMGTE Pro, a race-long fight raged between the leading contenders, who were rarely more than twenty seconds apart throughout the whole six-hour race.
The #99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowell and Richie Stanaway took their first WEC win and headed home the #92 Porsche Team Manthey entered Porsche 911 RSR driven by Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki.
Rees took the chequered flag 24.491s ahead of the Porsche but the final stint had been a stressful affair for the Brazilian, as he soaked up significant pressure from reigning GT champion Gianmaria Bruni in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.
That pressure subsided when the Ferrari was given a one-minute stop and go penalty for a pit stop infraction. A dropped tyre at the final stop ultimately cost the AF Corse team a second consecutive win this season and the Italian a third consecutive victory at Spa. The penalty dropped Bruni and Vilander back to fourth position in class.
Rees drove perhaps the race of his career so far with some excellent early race stints to ensure the platform was built for today’s victory. Richie Stanaway then increased the lead before Alex MacDowell completed a single stint, handing back over to Rees for the final hour.
“We played our strategy by ear,” said Richie Stanaway. “We had done some analysis of our race at Silverstone and had understood where we had lost time. Our pit stops were perfect. Ferrari did a mistake, that is also what we needed to win this race”
A second place for Porsche Team Manthey had looked unlikely going in to the final hour when Richard Lietz was given a penalty for abusing track limits. He and Frederic Makowiecki fought back tenaciously to secure runners-up points finishing ahead of their team mates Kevin Estre and Sven Muller in the sister #91 Porsche 911 RSR.
The #98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda claimed a second consecutive victory in what marked a perfect start to the season for the trio. They have now taken maximum points at each of the first two rounds and today marked a remarkable fifth win from the last seven WEC events.
It was not an entirely straightforward race for the #98 car as its pace dropped off as the track rubbered in, particularly in the later stages. Pedro Lamy began the race on an old set of Michelins but still opened up a small gap to the opposition. Paul Dalla Lana and then Mathias Lauda drove impressive stints, despite a spin at the final chicane for the Canadian.
“It was a strange race in some respects as everyone seemed to be on different strategies,” said Dalla Lana, who finished the race. “It is nice to start the season off with two maximum scores and these guys next to me (Lamy and Lauda) have been fantastic. It is always a thrill to win with Aston Martin and I am a very happy man this evening.”
The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 led most of the race and was able to see off the challenge of the second placed #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francois Perrodo in the final hour. The Ferrari 458 Italia had a relatively trouble-free run to the flag to claim another second place to add to their Silverstone runners-up position.
In the second hour of the event Larbre Competition took a turn at the front after Kristian Poulsen fought his way into the lead in the #50 Chevrolet Corvette C7. This was short lived as he had contact with one of the G-Drive Ligier-Nissan LMP2 cars and the resulting impact with the tyre barrier at the Paul Frere corner led to the French squad’s retirement from the race.
Third place went to the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Aleksey Basov, Andrea Bertolini and Victor Shayter. The Russian-entered car enjoyed a competitive race throughout the six hours and led with Shayter at the wheel during the second hour.
Once again close and thrilling action was the hallmark of the LMGTE classes at Spa today. These exciting battles are set to rage all season long as some of the world’s most famous racing GT brands fight it out for the 2015 WEC crowns.
#99 Richie Stanaway: “That was an amazing result for us. I’ve got to say a huge thanks to team. They’ve been practicing a lot on their pit stops and I think that’s where we really hit it home today. They were able to hit 16-second stops every time and put the Ferrari guys under pressure. I couldn’t be happier and I’m now really looking forward to Le Mans.”
#99 Fernando Rees – “It’s very special to take my first WEC GTE Pro win. We fought so hard last year and came close but you need so many details to come together. Today it did all come together and it’s more even special because of where it is – Spa has so much history and emotion and that means a lot to me. The Ferrari was so quick, so for us to get the pole and race win, that’s impressive. That couldn’t be better. It all came together perfectly.”
#99 Alex MacDowall – “We knew this year we had the best opportunity, we just had to draw upon the fast pace from last year. This was the year to do it and to get Richie on board was a great addition. At Silverstone we showed pace but we were unlucky. However, we came here and smashed it, which is a great way to go into Le Mans in June.”
#98 Mathias Lauda: “After the win at Silverstone, the pole position here yesterday and then getting maximum points today, we are really thinking about the championship. The team did a fantastic job and our pit-stops were excellent. Paul did great lap times and Pedro was fast, as always. My first stint I had really good lap times. In my second stint I knew that there was a good gap to second place and I was able to play it safe and not make any mistakes. It paid off and our consistent lap times and resulted in this win.”
#98 Pedro Lamy: “The car was fast and we were leading all the race. We had a good strategy and managed to do five stops as part of that with no problems at all. I was trying to be quick and keep the car out of trouble, which is really difficult here at Spa but it all came together and it’s great to take another win.”