COTA victory for Porsche under lights

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

With the first three hours lead­ing us into dark­ness at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­c­as, it will be far from Porsche danc­ing in the moon­light after a third WEC win on the bounce, as it could have so near­ly been anoth­er 1–2. We take a look at the final three hours here.

IMG_3051Hour 4

The fourth hour saw changes via penal­ties in LMP1. The #1 Toy­ota was the first to get a dri­ve through penal­ty for Davidson’s pit lane mis­take. It was deemed to to be dan­ger­ous dri­ving at the pit entry. How­ev­er, now that the #2 Toy­ota is out of the race, the #1 car’s posi­tion was unaf­fect­ed after the penal­ty.

How­ev­er that was a dif­fer­ent sto­ry for the crew of the #8 Audi. A dropped tire in an ear­li­er pit stop earned them a 1 minute stop and go, which in turn, dropped them to 4th posi­tion, and 11 sec­onds behind the #7 Audi, which made its way up to the pro­vi­sion­al podi­um.

11As the race start­ed to set­tle into its rhythm, an unusu­al mis­take from John­ny Kane in the Strak­ka as the British dri­ver loop him­self around on the kerb. Luck­i­ly how­ev­er, no con­tact was made with the wall and all oth­er cars avoid­ed him.

Dis­as­ter struck Porsche with 15 min­utes to go in the fourth hour as the lead­ing #17 car of Timo Bern­hard received a 1 minute stop and go penal­ty for a pit lane infringe­ment. This hand­ed the lead back to the pole sit­ting #18 car of Neel Jani. Bern­hard held onto sec­ond posi­tion after the penal­ty. Jani ceased the oppor­tu­ni­ty and pit­ted a lap after Bernhard’s penal­ty but held the lead. The gap between the two LMP1 Porsches now just 5 sec­onds.

Yet anoth­er pit lane infringe­ment saw a penal­ty this time for the #98 Aston Mar­tin of Pedro Lamy. This saw the Por­tuguese dri­ver drop down the order with just 2 hours to go.

IMG_7385Hour 5

Just inside the penul­ti­mate hour, the pair of AF Corse Fer­raris pit­ted. A trou­ble free stop for the #71 car of Rigon and Cal­a­do saw them take third place in class after the stop. How­ev­er a poor stop from the #51 Fer­rari saw the door not close on the driver’s side. Despite a good effort to get the door closed, the door had to be changed, drop­ping the #51 car down from third to last in GTE-PRO.

141Mean­while at the front of the class, Porsche con­tin­ued to lead the way in style with just half a sec­ond sep­a­rat­ing the #91 and #92 cars of Lietz and Makowiec­ki respec­tive­ly.

With an Hour and a half to go. Porsche con­tin­ued to lead, this time how­ev­er, with the #18 car ahead of the #17. Third place in class belonged to the #8 Audi of Duval, di Gras­si and Jarvis once again. The #7 Audi of Fassler, Lot­ter­er and Tre­luy­er in 4th and the sole remain­ing Toy­ota in 5th. ByKolles lead Rebel­lion Rac­ing in the Pri­va­teer cat­e­go­ry.

In LMP2, Sam Bird is infact ahead of the ByKolles LMP1 car, all the way up in 6th posi­tion over­all. The Sig­nat­e­ch Alpine team have moved up to sec­ond in class ahead of the #47 KCMG, although the French team still owe a pit stop. 6th posi­tion in class is where the local team, Extreme Speed Motor­sports sit in their Ligi­er JSP2.

GTE-PRO also has a Porsche 1–2. Lietz remains ahead of Makowiec­ki in the Man­they pair of 911 Porsches. Third still belongs to AF Corse, but it is the #71 car that holds it after the door issue on the #51 car dropped it down the order.

148GTE-AM has the #83 AF Corse Fer­rari in the lead ahead of home rac­er, Patrick Dempsey. Andrea Bertoli­ni in his SMP Rac­ing Fer­rari 458 Italia rounds out the podi­um run­ners with a hour and a half remain­ing.

The Final Hour

As the 6 Hours of the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­c­as enters it’s final hour, the chase to hunt down the #18 Porsche 919 began. Bren­don Hart­ley and Andre Lot­ter­er began going two sec­onds a lap faster than the leader in an attempt to catch, how­ev­er Dumas soon answered the ques­tion from his fel­low com­peti­tors with some strong times.

Lot­ter­er was the man on the move ear­ly as with 38 min­utes to go, he man­age to pass his Audi team mate, di Gras­si, and move up to a pro­vi­sion­al third posi­tion.

The chase how­ev­er was cut short when with 33 min­utes left on the clock the #18 car was pushed back into the garage after enter­ing the pit lane for its final stop. With Lot­ter­er up to sec­ond place and hav­ing his splash and dash, he then set the car’s fastest lap of the race with just 2 fresh tires and 24 min­utes remain­ing.

147Audi’s pace and pres­sure forced Porsche to stay out on old tires which means that the Audi of Lot­ter­er had a real chance to gain time on Bren­don Hartley’s Porsche 919 Hybrid. Remark­ably though, Hart­ley respond­ed to Audi with the fastest lap of the race with 15 min­utes to go on stint and a half year old tires.

In the mean time a stop go penal­ty was hand­ed to the sec­ond placed LMP2 car of KCMG, after a pit line infringe­ment on their final stop. They didn’t lose sec­ond place but all hopes of catch­ing Sam Bird in the #26 G-Dri­ve Ligi­er were gone.

139Despite the late charge, Porsche held on from Audi to win yet anoth­er fan­tas­tic WEC race. This is the sec­ond win on the bounce for Porsche and the #17 car, how­ev­er they only just close in on the cham­pi­onship points bat­tle, as Andre Lot­ter­er, Benoit Tre­luy­er and Mar­cel Fassler fin­ished sec­ond in the #7 Audi, ahead of the #8 Audi. Toy­ota stole fourth place after yet anoth­er tough race for Toy­ota. The for­mer race leader, the #18 Porsche 919 made it out the garage after a scary moment wait­ing for the car to start, and crossed the line in 12th. ByKolles picked up their sec­ond win of the sea­son with Pierre Kaf­fer and Simon Trum­mer ahead of the pair of trou­bled Rebel­lion Rac­ing R-Ones.

138LMP2 saw the #26 G-Dri­ve car win the race after a fan­tas­tic race from Sam Bird helped secure the win and 5th posi­tion over­all. This is the first win for a Ligi­er since the pass­ing of Guy Ligi­er. The #28 G-Dri­ve Ligi­er came home in third in class and 7th over­all, with the KCMG Ore­ca 05 split­ting the two Russ­ian cars and claim­ing sec­ond in class and sixth over­all. The sole remain­ing #30 Extreme Speed Motor­sport Ligi­er came in sec­ond place ahead of SARD-Morand, Alpine and Strak­ka respec­tive­ly.

GTE-PRO was a repeat result of last time out at the Nur­bur­gring, with the #91 Porsche 911 win­ning ahead of the #92 sis­ter car mak­ing it a Man­they 1–2 once again. Cal­a­do and Rigon came third in their AF Corse Fer­rari ahead of the #99, #95 and #97 Aston Mar­tin V8 Van­tages in that order.

And final­ly it was vic­to­ry for SMP Rac­ing yet again after a fan­tas­tic race in GTE-AM. Abu Dhabi Pro­ton Rac­ing come home in sec­ond posi­tion ahead of the #83 AF Corse Fer­rari. In the end the #77 Dempsey car could only man­age fourth in class. The #98 Aston Mar­tin won the inter team bat­tle in GTE-AM fin­ish­ing in fifth ahead of the #96 V8 Van­tage.

96So anoth­er win for Porsche means they have three wins to Audi’s 2 so far this sea­son, how­ev­er the #7 Audi crew still lead the dri­vers cham­pi­onship while Web­ber, Hart­ley and Bern­hard keep on clos­ing the gap. Join us next time for cov­er­age of the 6 Hours of Fuji on Octo­ber the 11th.

Images — WEC-Mag­a­zin (James Clarke)