WEC: Webber/Hartley/Bernhard Porsche LMP1 takes second consecutive WEC win
Circuit Of The Americas, Austin, Texas – Sep 20th 2015 – At the Lone Star Le Mans this evening, the No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid took the chequered flag 1m06s seconds ahead of the No.7 Audi Sport Team Joest car to claim Porsche’s third successive WEC race victory. The 6 Hours of COTA result means that today’s winning trio of Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard have reduced the points’ gap to leaders André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler to just ten points.
The race, which ran under three hours of complete darkness, seemed to have been settled in the fourth hour when the No.17 Porsche, which was leading at the time, was given a penalty for a pit infringement. The offence occurred during the second scheduled stop when Brendon Hartley handed over to Mark Webber. A mechanic touched the car during the re-fuelling, which is forbidden under the regulations, and the car was given a 60-second stop/go penalty. This was not the only pit drama for the eventual winners as Webber made a rare error when he overshot his pit after the third stint.
This handed the lead to the pole-sitting No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid, and from there it looked like a relatively straightforward first win of the season for Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas. However, a technical problem with just 30-minutes to go ended any chance of a podium position and they eventually 12th overall, thus claiming just 0.5pts.
Lotterer, Tréluyer and Fässler were unable to offer a challenge to the Porsches despite a different pit stop strategy. The No.7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro appeared to be a faster proposition in the second half of the race but, by that stage, any attempt to attack the No.17 Porsche was not possible.
Completing the podium at COTA today was the No.8 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro. The car spent much of the first half of the race staying in touch with the Porsches but, sadly for Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loïc Duval, they too fell foul of a pit penalty when one of the mechanics dropped a wheel. The resulting 60-second stop/go penalty dropped the car back behind the No.7.
The No.26 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan of Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal secured a second LMP2 win of the season after a hard-fought victory. A race long battle with the KCMG ORECA was resolved in G-Drive’s favour after some scintillating laps by Sam Bird at the beginning and end of the race. Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal also drove flawless stints to reduce the gap further to KCMG and gathered further useful points for its title quest. Nicolas Lapierre, Matt Howson and Richard Bradley all led at stages of the race as differing pit strategies played out. A late race penalty for a pit infringement that had to be taken by Lapierre ensured that the win went to the orange and black No.26 Ligier-Nissan.
It was a successful weekend for G-Drive Racing as the No.28 completed the podium. It mirrored the Nurburgring result for Gustavo Yacaman, Ricardo Gonzalez and Pipo Derani. It was a close battle for the final podium position as third to sixth in the class was covered by just 21 seconds.
Porsche and Ferrari take LMGTE honours at Circuit of Americas
There were further celebrations for Porsche as the Porsche Team Manthey squad claimed another fine 1-2 formation finish in the LMGTE Pro category.
After a race-long battle between the two Porsche 911 RSRs, it was the No.91 entry of Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen that triumphed once again. The deciding point of the race between the two entries came at the penultimate pit stop when a faster turnaround for the No.91 car gained track position and ultimately the win for the Austrian-Danish pairing ahead of Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet.
The No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander had looked to be on course to challenge the Porsches but a long pit stop to first fix and then replace a door on the Italian car meant they slipped down the order to eventually place only seventh.
Team mates to Bruni and Vilander in the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari – James Calado and Davide Rigon – took third but were unable to get within striking distance of the Porsche Team Manthey cars.
Completing a hat-trick of LMGTE Am wins at COTA was the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 of Andrea Bertolini, Victor Shaytar and Aleksey Basov. The trio once again completed an excellent win after a race long battle with three competitors – the No.88 Abu-Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche, the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari and the Dempsey-Proton Porsche, which in the hands of Pat Long had led for the first hour.
The win means the Russian-entered Ferrari 458 has an increased advantage of 35 points in the standings.
The next round of the WEC will be the 6 Hours of Fuji on 11th October.
2016 CALENDAR ANNOUNCED
The 2016 schedule for the increasingly prestigious endurance series, a joint partnership between the FIA and the ACO, echoes that of 2015 plus the addition of the Mexican round, and will feature nine races in four continents.
2016 FIA World Endurance Championship Provisional Calendar**
25/26 March: The Prologue, Circuit Paul Ricard, France
17 April: 6 Hours of Silverstone, GBR
07 May: WEC 6 Hours of Spa, BEL
05 June: 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day
18/19 June: 24 Hours of Le Mans, FRA
24 July: 6 Hours of Nürburgring, DEU
04 September: 6 Hours of Mexico City, MEX (To Be Confirmed)
17 September: 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas (Lone Star Le Mans), USA
16 October: 6 Hours of Fuji, JPN
06 November: 6 Hours of Shanghai, CHN
19 November: 6 Hours of Bahrain, BAH
** Subject to validation by the FIA World Motor Sport Council