Victory for Porsche at the Nurburgring

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

The first three hours were what we have come to expect of the FIA WEC. But it was vic­to­ry on home soil for Porsche in the end after a close though bat­tle with Audi at the front of the field. We take a look at the sec­ond half of the race.

Porsche win Nurburgring 2015Hour 4

The fourth hour began with yet more bad news at AF Corse. After the mechan­i­cal issues of the #51 car ear­li­er, the #71 was hav­ing a strong race in sec­ond posi­tion in GTE-PRO. How­ev­er, as a con­se­quence of ear­li­er con­tact with Makowiec­ki, the #71 car with Davide Rigon picked up a punc­ture and dropped down to third in class.

There was an unusu­al rea­son for a pit stop in GTE-AM when there was a door change for the #77 in GTE-AM. The win­dow on dri­vers right of the car failed and forced the team to pit for a new door.

Ferrari 2015 NurburgringWhile all of this GTE con­tro­ver­sy was car­ry­ing on, the #18 Porsche con­t­nin­ued on and man­aged to get back to around 1 lap off of the race lead. The #7 Audi of Tre­luy­er was still sec­ond to Web­ber in the #17 and the #8 car of Oliv­er Jarvis in third. LMP2 con­tin­ued to see the KCMG lead ahead of a pair of bat­tling G-Dri­ve cars by just over a lap.

Hour 5

The penul­ti­mate hour of the race began poor­ly for the Strak­ka team. First­ly con­tact with the #97 Aston Mar­tin of Ste­fan Mucke at the Dun­lop curve saw its right rear legal­i­ty pan­el break free. Then, a 30 sec­ond stop go penal­ty was issued to the team for speed­ing in the pit lane.

Porsche’s luck began to pick up as Mark Web­ber put a lap on the sec­ond place car of Beniot Tre­luy­er. In the mean­time, the gap between the pair of Audi’s reduced to just 18 sec­onds.

Audi at Nurburgring 2015Once again, there was a full course yel­low out for grav­el on the track at the final chi­cane which cued a flur­ry of activ­i­ty in the pit lane, includ­ing from the lead­ing #17 car. Mark Web­ber jumped out of the Porsche 919 and hand­ed over the con­trols to Bren­don Harltey.

After all the stops under full course yel­low, Jani man­aged to get past the #8 Audi back up into third posi­tion after a bril­liant recov­ery dri­ve. Jani how­ev­er didn’t stop there as he was under 10 sec­onds off of the sec­ond place #7 Audi imme­di­ate­ly.

In GTE-AM, Aston Mar­tin let go of the lead, and passed it back to the pole sit­ting SMP Rac­ing Fer­rari. Andrea Bertolli­ni nipped past the #98 Aston Mar­tin with Paul Dal­la Lana behind the wheel.

10 min­utes shy of the final hour the bat­tle for third began to hot up. Jani began to hus­tle the #7 Audi of Tre­luy­er while Di Gras­si in the #8 Audi was clos­ing on the pair of them by a sec­ond a lap.

Right at the death of the fifth hour Jani dove down the inside of Tre­ly­er into the first cor­ner but went to deep. Tre­luy­er cut back but was then forced around the out­side of turn two, and amaz­ing­ly made it stick before swoop­ing round the out­side of turn 3 as well before gain­ing the inside for the next cor­ner and hold­ing the posi­tion. This left the #8 of Di Gras­si the chance to over­take Jani into the Dun­lop curve and took it, mak­ing it an Audi 2–3 once again thanks to the mas­ter­ful defend­ing of Benoit Tre­luy­er.

The Final Hour

With Hart­ley out in front by a lap ahead of the #7 and #8 Aud­is respec­tive­ly, The bat­tle was again white hot. Di Gras­si made it past Tre­luy­er and into sec­ond posi­tion where he broke away, but the French­man held off the #18 Porsche of Jani behind until it took a late dive into the pits with 51 min­utes to go, where Andre Lot­ter­er took over the con­trols of the #7 Audi R-18 e-tron quat­tro.

After the stops, Neel Jani found his way past the two Audi’s with a faster stop mak­ing it once again a Porsche 1–2. With half an hour left on the clock, Audi swapped the posi­tions for third place with the #8 car going though pass­ing the #7 cham­pi­onship lead­ing car.

GTE-PRO Nurbergring winner

A late call with under half an hour to go saw the stew­ards give the sec­ond place #92 Porsche 911 in GTE-PRO a dri­ve though penal­ty for its ear­li­er inci­dent with the #71 AF Corse Fer­rari 458 Italia. How­ev­er, despite the penal­ty the #92 car held on to sec­ond in class ahead of the #71 car.

With just 17 min­utes to go, Lucas Di Gras­si began to close on the #18 Porsche once again, how­ev­er it wasn’t enough to re take to posi­tion. This meant that it was a 1–2 like in 2009, but this time for Porsche. And the first win for Mark Web­ber in the WEC at the same cir­cuit he took his first F1 race win at in 2009. That also means it is the first win for the Web­ber, Harley, Bern­hard trio in the series, as well as Porsche’s first 1–2 with the 919 Hybrid. Best of the rest would have gone to Audi with the #8 car tak­ing it’s first podi­um of the year for Jarvis, Di Gras­si and Duval. How­ev­er a late change to ben­e­fit Audi’s cham­pi­onship stand­ings saw the #7 car take the final podi­um spot.

For the first time the ByKolles team made it to the fin­ish and took the race win with Simon Trum­mer and Pierre Kaf­fer ahead of the sole fin­ish­ing Rebel­lion R-One of Beche, Hied­feld and Prost

In LMP2 the KCMG had Nick Tandy back behind the wheel and a lap ahead of his near­est LMP2 com­peti­tor, fel­low Brit, Sam bird. That is how it fin­ished, there­fore mean­ing that KCMG win again after Le Mans. Sam Bird in the #26 G-Dri­ve led home the #28 G-Dri­ve car mak­ing it a G-Dri­ve 2–3. After the dra­ma ear­li­er in the week, Sard Morand took a fan­tas­tic fourth place in the LMP2 class.

GTE-PRO made it a dou­ble Porsche 1–2 with the #91 car of Michael Chris­tensen and Richard Lietz ahead of the #92 of Patrick Pilet and Fred­erik Makowiec­ki. James Cal­a­do and Davide Rigon took their #71 AF Corse Fer­rari up to third posi­tion after a tricky race for the team.

In GTE-AM SMP Rac­ing repeat­ed their Le Mans win by tak­ing top spot. Aston Mar­tin man­aged sec­ond in GTE-AM with their #98 car ahead of the final podi­um posi­tion car, the #83 AF Corse Fer­rari.

A pair of 1–2’s for Porsche made it a per­fect home race for the Ger­man team in front of 62000 fans across the week­end at the Nur­bur­gring. A fan­tas­tic recov­ery dri­ve from Jani, Lieb and Dumas was the star sto­ry of the race in LMP1, as with three min­utes worth of penal­ties, they still bat­tled back to sec­ond ahead of Audi. Yet anoth­er podi­um posi­tion for Lot­ter­er, Tre­luy­er and Fassler how­ev­er keeps the cham­pi­onship fight well and tru­ly alive. We look foward to see­ing you next time from the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­c­as next month

Images — David Tun­ni­cliffe (WEC-Mag­a­zin)