WEC: One-Two For Porsche In Texas
The Porsche LMP Team further extended its world championship lead in Texas when Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley crossed the line first at the Circuit of The Americas. The sixth round of the WEC was a hot, six-hour long affair in temperatures of more than 30-degrees Celsius, it saw the No1 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy finish second, having handed their lead over to the No2 Porsche in the closing stages of the race.
The No1 car was started from pole position by Jani, it built up a solid lead of more than ten seconds. After 30 laps Lotterer took over, but because the chasing Toyotas don’t change tyres at their first stops, Lotterer dropped back to third. From lap 47 to 52 he became embroiled in a tense battle with the number 7 Toyota, a dice that Lotterer won to continue in P2. Bernhard started the No2 car from P2 but lost two places on the first lap to the Toyotas. At the first stop after 29 laps, Hartley took over but dropped to fourth, losing out to the Toyotas just like his teammate. Hartley overtook the No7 Toyota on lap 53.
With Tandy staying on the same set of tyres, he led the race for his entire stint, a position the car remained in through Jani’s following stint. During Lotterer’s subsequent run he tangled with the No7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, but thankfully both cars continued. Kobayashi had already been dicing with the No2 Porsche in a battle with Bamber, but a safety car stint eroded any gaps between the cars, and so during the various pit stop phases, the No2 Porsche managed to grab second place behind its leading sister car.
In the final stages of the race the two Porsches switched positions a couple of times but, with just four laps to go, the No1 car let its sister 919 pass with the driver’s championship in mind. The result marked the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s 17th race win and the seventh one-two victory since its debut in 2014. In the drivers’ rankings, the trio of Bamber/Bernhard/Hartley now have 159 points, extending their lead over the best placed Toyota drivers (108 points). Jani/Lotterer/Tandy lie fourth in the championship on 90 points.
Nick Tandy commented: “I was the third driver in our car and my first stint was on used tyres and we didn’t know what to expect. But the pace stayed consistent and competitive so that we kept the lead. I have the feeling that my teammates had the more exciting stints and battles then I had. Congratulations to Porsche for a great result. On our side of the garage we once again did a perfect race. We were really fast and did everything right.” Earl Bamber added: “Our sister car number 1 had the edge on us today. They did a fantastic job with no mistakes and we also had a big challenge from Toyota. I’m sure they will be very strong in Fuji, so we have to keep working. Our car was good today, we had great stints and some battles to enjoy.”
Second For RSR
In the GTE-Pro category, Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre climbed their way from the last grid spot to finish second. Their teammates Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki endured two drive-through penalties, resulting in them finishing in sixth place.
On the opening lap Estre overtook four competitors and returned after the first lap running in fourth. From seventh on the grid Makowiecki stayed glued to his bumper and gained two positions. After the first safety car phase in the third hour of racing, Kévin Estre swept into the lead. Despite having to relinquish the lead, the No92 911 RSR remained on course for a podium result over the rest of the race.
Delivering a strong performance and a swift pit stop in the closing phase of the race, Christensen moved into second place and even threatened the RSR’s first WEC victory. After 167 laps, the top Porsche was just a little over five seconds off winning. For Lietz and Makowiecki those two drive-through penalties – for a breach of the circuit boundary line and due to a wheelspin while leaving the pits – cost time which they could not regain.
Round seven of the WEC takes place in Japan on 15 October.
|1. Bernhard / Hartley / Bamber||919 Hybrid||192 laps|
|2. Jani / Lotterer / Tandy||919 Hybrid||192 laps|
|3. Sarrazin / Nakajima / Buemi||Toyota TS050||192 laps|
|1. Calado / Pier Guidi||Ferrari 488 GTE||167 laps|
|2.Christensen / Estre||911 RSR||167 laps|
|3. Rigon / Bird||Ferrari 488 GTE||167 laps|
|6.Lietz / Makowiecki||911 RSR||166 laps|
|1. Bernhard / Hartley / Bamber||919 Hybrid||159 points|
|2. Nakajima / Buemi||Toyota TS050||108 points|
|3. Davidson||Toyota TS050||93 points|
|4. Jani / Lotterer / Tandy||919 Hybrid||83 points|
|1. Priaulx / Tincknell||Ford GT||102 points|
|2. Lietz / Makowieck||911 RSR||96 points|
|3. Rigon||Ferrari 488 GTE||93.5 points|
|10. Estre / Christensen||911 RSR||52 points|
|1. Porsche||242 points|
|2. Toyota||168.5 points|