Porsche takes hard-fought victory in Texas

posted in: Homepage, LMGTE, LMGTE-Am, LMGTE-Pro, LMP, LMP1, LMP2 | 1

The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Earl Bam­ber, Timo Bern­hard and Bren­don Hart­ley took vic­to­ry in the Tex­an heat on Sat­ur­day after a hard-fought bat­tle with the pair of Toy­ota TS050s in the Six Hours of the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­c­as. The sis­ter #1 Porsche of Nick Tandy, André Lot­ter­er and Neel Jani came through in sec­ond, under half a sec­ond down on the #2. The result, how­ev­er, only tells half the sto­ry, with the #1 car hav­ing sur­ren­dered the lead of the race in the clos­ing stages to ben­e­fit the #2 car’s cham­pi­onship hopes.

It was a con­tro­ver­sial and arguably unnec­es­sary end to what had been a tight and almost race-long bat­tle with the pair of Toy­ota TS050s. It was Hart­ley, Bam­ber and Bernhard’s fourth vic­to­ry in suc­ces­sion and gives the trio a com­mand­ing fifty-point lead at the head of the World Endurance Dri­vers’ Cham­pi­onship.

The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid had qual­i­fied on pole posi­tion after a stun­ning lap from Nick Tandy late into the ses­sion and seemed to be the class of the field at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­c­as , but – as at the Nür­bur­gring –, team orders dic­tat­ed that Tandy, Lot­ter­er and Jani were to sur­ren­der the win.

Our sis­ter car num­ber 1 had the edge on us today,” said Earl Bam­ber after the race. “They did a fan­tas­tic job with no mis­takes and we also had a big chal­lenge from Toy­ota.” Timo Bern­hard also com­mend­ed his team­mates’ per­for­mance on Twit­ter: “Dou­ble vic­to­ry for Porsche. Nor­mal­ly P2 for us after tough fight with Toy­ota. Switched posi­tion with Car 1. They would have deserve the win.”

Toy­ota attempt­ed a dif­fer­ent strat­e­gy dur­ing the race, dou­ble-stint­ing their tyres where­as Porsche were only sin­gle-stint­ing. The TS050s were quick enough dur­ing their stints to ensure that the time gained in the pits stops brought them back up into con­tention for the race win, but ulti­mate­ly the race pace of the Porsche LMP1 hybrids told.

There was yet anoth­er nail-bit­ing race for suprema­cy in GTE Pro, with the #71 AF Corse Fer­rari 488 of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon start­ing the race from pole. The #95 Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing machine of Nicky Thi­im and Mar­co Sørensen made the best start and led ear­ly on, before the pace of the Fer­raris told and both the #71 and the #51 machine of Alle­san­dro Per Gui­di and James Cal­a­do moved to the top of the field.

The Fer­raris clear­ly felt at home in the Tex­an heat, while the pair of works Porsche 911 RSRs also seemed to adapt well to the con­di­tions, mov­ing up into con­tention as the race pro­gressed.

The #71 AF Corse car ulti­mate­ly held the upper hand over its sis­ter car, and led the field by around a minute as the race came to a con­clu­sion. A late punc­ture while James Cal­a­do was behind the wheel almost robbed the team of a well-earned vic­to­ry. How­ev­er, the Brit was able to pit and have the prob­lem addressed, emerg­ing with a 20-sec­ond advan­tage over the hard-charg­ing #92 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Chris­tensen and Kévin Estre, which had caught and passed the #51 Fer­rari with an hour of the race remain­ing.

Cal­a­do and Per Gui­di took their sec­ond vic­to­ry of the sea­son and have closed up the gap to the cham­pi­onship-lead­ing Ford dri­vers Andy Pri­aulx and Har­ry Tinck­nell, who them­selves could only man­age a 7th-placed fin­ish, to just sev­en points.

In LMP2, vic­to­ry went to Sig­nat­e­ch-Alpine for the first time this sea­son, with Nico­las Lapierre, André Negrão and Gus­ta­vo Menezes tak­ing a com­fort­able vic­to­ry – the lat­ter at his home race. Oth­er LMP2 com­peti­tors suf­fered major issues at the hands of the scorch­ing heat, with the #28 TDS Rac­ing and #26 G-Dri­ve machines both spend­ing extend­ed peri­ods in the pits due to var­i­ous prob­lems.

In sec­ond posi­tion in class was the #13 Vail­lante Rebel­lion machine of Math­ias Beche, David Heine­meier-Hans­son and Nel­son Piquet Jr., mark­ing their best fin­ish and first podi­um of the sea­son and some­what mak­ing up for their post-race dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from third posi­tion over­all at Le Mans. Round­ing out the top three was the sis­ter Rebel­lion car of Julien Canal, Nico­las Prost and Bruno Sen­na.

GTE Am vic­to­ry went to the #98 Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing car after a tough bat­tle first­ly with the #54 Spir­it of Race Fer­rari 488 and then against the #61 Clear­wa­ter Rac­ing Fer­rari, which fin­ished third and sec­ond respec­tive­ly. Pre­vi­ous cham­pi­onship lead­ers Dempsey-Pro­ton Porsche sur­ren­dered their lead in the title bat­tle to the AMR crew after com­ing in in fourth posi­tion. The #86 Gulf Rac­ing Porsche 911 suf­fered a brake issue halfway through the race, with Mike Wain­wright career­ing into the bar­ri­ers at the end of the long back straight and bring­ing out the only safe­ty car peri­od of the race.

Images © FIA WEC / Markus Heck­er / Mar­ius Langer


One Response

  1. Alistair Frary

    Real­ly dis­ap­point­ed with Porsche. You stay up late to sup­port WEC and the rac­ing just to see the result being fixed. It is my belief that Nick Tandy is the best Porsche dri­ver out there and he must be gut­ted to hear his demo­tion over the radio. Porsche will win the LMP1 cham­pi­onship any­way what­ev­er hap­pens — so why not let them race. It is a poor advert for WEC and a great dis­ap­point­ment for the fans.