The #1 Rebellion Racing R13 of Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato took victory at the WEC’s 2020 Lone Star Le Mans six-hour race at the Circuit of the Americas.
In an almost entirely green race with no safety car or full-course yellow phases, the Rebellion crew almost metronomic in their performance to secure a well-earned second win of the season.
An outstanding stint by Bruno Senna put the #1 machine in the box seat for the rest of the race. The Brazilian quickly gapped the pair of works Toyotas from the green flag, in some cases by almost 3 seconds per lap. The buffer was sufficient to partially compensate for the longer fuel stops required by the Swiss crew.
The gap was extended to as much as 30 seconds before efforts by Brendon Hartley, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 machine brought the Toyota TS050 Hybrid into contention. It remained a yo-yo battle throughout the six hours, with the #8 and #1 cars swapping positions back and forth at every round of pit stops.
As the final stops were made, Gustavo Menezes in the #1 Rebellion took left-hand tyres only and emerged 10s behind Hartley in the Toyota. With the #8 machine also requiring a splash in the final hour, Menezes was given the honour of comfortable victory for the Rebellion crew by around 50 seconds ahead of the #8 Toyota.
#95 Aston Martin flawless in GTE Pro
The #95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim put together a performance of the highest quality to secure a lights-to-flag victory in the GTE Pro class. The Aston Martin crew were the class of the field but were run close by a hard-charging #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre as the race drew to a close.
The Porsches were the only GTE Pro cars able to match the pace of the pair of Aston Martins and both the #91 and #92 machines remained within striking distance going into the closing stages.
With an hour of the race remaining an electrical issue on the #91 car driven by Gianmaria Bruni brought the 911 RSR-19 to a temporary stop on track. However, the Italian was able to get the car moving again, avoiding any need for a full-course yellow.
The #92 machine remained unaffected by the sister car’s issues, and was just 3 seconds behind the lead Aston Martin coming out of the final round of stops. The gap remained no larger than 4 seconds throughout the entire final stint, but Dane Nicki Thiim managed to keep his cool and bring the Vantage AMR home.
Third position in class went to James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi for AF Corse in the #51 machine. It was a relatively quiet race for the Italian squad, but a final hour charge saw the Brit catch and pass Alex Lynn in the #97 Aston Martin machine to wrap up the final podium position.
United Autosports prevail in LMP2 strategy drama
The story of the race came in the LMP2 class, with a strategic battle lasting the entire race coming to a head in the final half an hour. With a lack of FCY or SC running, most LMP2 runners were left needing a splash of fuel to make it to the end of the race.
Victory went to the #22 United Autosports car of Paul di Resta, Phil Hanson and Felipe Albuquerque, who recovered from an early setback to record their second win in as many race. A tyre pressure issue saw the #22 machine fall out of sync on pit stops in the early stages, and it was a race-long battle for Hanson, di Resta and Albuquerque to remain in contention. Ultimately di Resta emerged with a 30-second advantage ahead of the #37 with just 15 minutes of the race remaining, but only thanks to running his final set of tyres for two and a half stints.
Issues also affected the second-placed #37 crew, after a spin for Will Stevens put the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca to the back of the field in class. However, some consistently fast driving from Stevens, Ho Ping Tung and Gabriel Aubry saw the Chinese crew rise through the field and enter the final hour in second and in real contention. Rounding out the top three was the #38 JOTA Oreca of Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez.
Final-hour drama in GTE Am
The GTE Am class battle also went to the wire at the Circuit of the Americas. As in GTE Pro, it was Aston Martin with the strongest package in Texas, with the #90 TF Sport machine securing the win ahead of the #98 Aston Martin Racing crew.
As in LMP2, the various race strategies shook out as the cars made their final pit stops. Ross Gunn in the #98 AMR car had the advantage but Charlie Eastwood caught and passed the Scot with around 30 minutes of the race remaining to take TF Sport’s third victory of the season.
Images FIA WEC Press Material © 2020 Joao Felipe / AdrenalMedia.com