Audi fend off Porsche at Silverstone

posted in: FIA, LMGTE-Am, LMGTE-Pro, LMP1, LMP2, Review, WEC, WEC-Magazin | 0

A front row lock out for Porsche set up a strong show­ing for them the race. But it was to be Audi that took win at the open­ing round of the WEC this sea­son.

65 LMP1 Lead Battle

The ear­ly stages of the race were pro­duc­tive for Porsche’s Mark Web­ber. A per­fect start saw him gap the trail­ing pack imme­di­ate­ly and start to make an ear­ly bid for vic­to­ry. Audi had a less suc­cess­ful start with the #7 car when it didn’t get away from the start, drop­ping down to the mid pack. The ByKolles team only last­ed a hand­ful of laps before the #4 car was pushed off the track and caused dam­age to the floor, forc­ing a full replace­ment to the under­side of the car.

LMP2 was again, a sto­ry of a fan­tas­tic start. Nick Tandy’s first LMP2 start was strong enough to see him jump ahead of the pair of G-Dri­ve cars at the start. Although the lead was closed down towards the first pit stop win­dow by the charg­ing G-Dri­ve duo. while both GTE cat­e­gories saw the pole sit­ting Aston Mar­tins fall down the pack.

G-DRIVE Silverstone Victory 2015

As both Porsches 919s broke away it was Toy­ota lead­ing Audi and the #2 Toy­ota, with the recov­er­ing #7 car close behind. Mark Web­ber hit trou­ble when a rear dri­ve train issue forced the Ger­man team into a bring­ing the lead­ing #17 car into the garage, where it remained for the rest of the race.

Due to the issues with the #17 car, the #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid inher­it­ed the lead of the race. Treluyer’s come back after his dis­as­ter­ous start had by this point seen him rise to fourth, but with the #17 Porsche drop­ping out the race and the sis­ter #8 Audi hav­ing to pit to replace its rear legal­i­ty pan­el, that quick­ly became sec­ond place.

All this set the scene for a fan­tas­tic on edge bat­tle between Tre­luy­er and Neel Jani in his lead­ing #18 Porsche for the race lead. The pair were line astern for 20 min­utes as they swapped posi­tions almost every lap. The Audi had the advan­tage into the loop at the start of the lap, more often than not gain­ing the lead of the race by Ain­tree. The Porsche then dragged past on the straights to reclaim the lead. While it was fire­works at the front of the pack, Antho­ny David­son put in fastest laps to close the gap in his #1 Toy­ota.

The bat­tle con­tin­ued until the pit stops. As the race wore on the sole remain­ing Porsche 919 lost pace to the Audi, but remained in the hunt for the win due to its supe­ri­or fuel con­sump­tion. The #1 Toy­ota was stay­ing in touch in third place, but becom­ing ever fur­ther adrift was the #2 effort from Toy­ota.

While the LMP1 bat­tle was well and tru­ly rag­ing, the inter-team fight for the lead in GTE-PRO between the two AF Corse Fer­raris was also busy burn­ing away. the #71 car caught up to the back of the #51 car but couldn’t find a way past the defend­ing cham­pi­ons.

Although a lap down, the #8 Audi still had a vital part to play in the race when after a sequence of pit stops it came out behind the #7 car. A wel­come rear gun­ner for the Joest team. This even­tu­al­ly helped the #7 Audi pull out a lead over the Porsche.

Mean­while in LMP2 the race con­tin­ued to go through it’s paces. The #26 G-Dri­ve car con­tin­u­ing to lead from the sis­ter #28 car. The ESM team in their first race at Sil­ver­stone had made a break into the pro­vi­sion­al top three. Despite an ear­ly spin, the Strak­ka dome was find­ing its way back though the order.

Strakka third Silverstone Debut 2015

The bad luck was not over for the Porsche team, but this time it was the GTE-PRO teams turn to have a car drop out of the lead. The for­mer #92 Porsche 911 leader had to have an extend­ed stop due to a bro­ken front damper. Although like ealier in LMP1, the sis­ter car inher­it­ed the lead.

As the hours ticked by the #7 Audi con­tin­ued to lead and began, for the first time to look like a poten­tial win­ner. Although an ince­dent at club cor­ner saw Fassler run all four wheels off the cir­cuit to pass a back mark­er. The ince­dent was deemed to be ‘abus­ing track lim­its’ which land­ed the Swiss dri­ver a stop-go penal­ty. The #7 Audi came into the pits the next lap, but had fuel added to the car. This meant that after hav­ing the lead dis­si­pate in a planned stop, the car would still have to serve a dri­ve though a lap lat­ter.

Sure enough the lead­ing Audi came in for its stop go penal­ty the next lap. Jani, who was back in the Porsche did not have to stop for fuel due to supirour fuel con­sump­tion. The trip twice down the pits put the Porsche right back in con­tention with just ten min­utes to go in the 6 hour epic.

Unfor­tu­natly for Porsche, the late charge was not enough to claim vic­to­ry. The gap closed sig­nif­i­cant­ly to about 3 quar­ters of the length of the new Sil­ver­stone pit straight. The Porsche how­ev­er ran out of time on the clock to catch the cau­tious Audi in the clos­ing stages.

This meant vic­to­ry for the first time since the 6 Hours of CoTA last sea­son for Lot­ter­er, who man­aged to pull the #7 Audi clear of the Porsche after the bat­tle mid race, Fassler, who raced hard with Jani in the titan­ic scrap for the lead at the 2 hour mark, and Tre­luy­er who’s recov­ery after the ail­ing start for the Audi was vital to its suc­cess.

They won the race from the #18 Porsche and the #1 Toy­ota that held on for the final podi­um posi­tion. Toyota’s #2 car came home in fourth with the trou­bled #8 Audi last of the LMP1 fin­ish­ers.

It was Sam Bird in his first LMP2 race that brought the G-Dri­ve #26 car over the line for vic­to­ry in class on his home soil. G-Dri­ve com­plet­ed a fan­tas­tic week­end for the Russ­ian team with the #28 JS-P2 claim­ing the sec­ond step on the podi­um. ESM’s #30 car took third on the road, but was lat­er exclud­ed from the results. This hand­ed third place to the debut­ing Strak­ka Dome, although 7 laps off the #26 car.

Silverstone 2015 win for #51

The #91 Porsche end­ed the race in Sec­ond posi­tion in the GTE-PRO class in a close fin­ish, just 10 sec­onds adrift of the defend­ing cham­pi­ons, Bruni and Vilan­der. After a strong bat­tle with the even­tu­al win­ners at the half way stage, Cal­a­do and Rigon crossed the line in third posi­tion in class. A lap behind was the pole sit­ters in the #95 Dane Train which strug­gled for race pace.

Lamy claimed the GTE-AM lead back by the end of the race after a quick stop at the end of the race. The class was one by a meare 13 sec­onds over#83 AF Corse Fer­rari in sec­ond. It was anoth­er Fer­rari in third, how­ev­er this one was the SMP Rac­ing effort pilot­ed by Shay­tar, Bertoli­ni and Basov.

Images: Wal­ter Schruff/James Clarke (WEC-Mag­a­zin)