WEC: Porsche Wins Mexico Debut
Porsche put on an emphatic performance at the World Endurance Championship’s first race in Mexico. Reigning world champions, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, won the thrilling six-hour race, furthering Porsche’s lead in the title race with four rounds left to race. The sister Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb came fourth, enabling the trio to further extend their lead in the drivers’ championship.
Car number one’s race
Brendon Hartley started the race in car number one from fourth. After a very good start he was able to overtake the sister 919 Hybrid of Lieb into the first corner, subsequently dispatching the Audi of Lotterer on lap 21. Hartley used a full course yellow flag period to pit, handing the car over to Webber. Webber was able to pass Di Grassi for the lead, keeping the charging Audi at bay until the penultimate lap before his pit stop on lap 74, with the Audi of Di Grassi pitting at the same time. Porsche emerged back in the lead thanks to stellar work by the pit crew. Another full course yellow period presented an opportunity for the team to pit the 919 Hybrid but a mistake by Bernhard meant a stop-go penalty with Hartley at the wheel, handing back the lead to Audi. Porsche reclaimed the lead but rain meant a switch to wet tyres on lap 134. But with a solid drive and a gradually drying track, Hartley handed the car back on lap 162 to Bernhard (albeit in second place after Audi retook the lead). Porsche reclaimed the lead on lap 172 when the Audi pitted and despite changing conditions and a minor off, Bernhard was able to claim victory after 230 laps.
Timo Bernhard said; “Sports car racing couldn’t be any better! During my second stint in the last third of the race the final 20 minutes especially turned out to be very difficult. In sector three, as it was suddenly wetter than the lap before and I made a small mistake. Luckily I didn’t touch anything and was able to continue. It was outstanding how the team prepared the 919 Hybrid for these special conditions, the new track and the altitude.”
Fourth for car number two
A poor start dropped Lieb from second to fourth on the grid, but he was able to climb to third when the Audi of Lotterer pitted. A slow pit stop at the same time as the number one sister car, in which Jani took over driving duties, put the car back into fourth behind the Toyota of Nakajima. After an intense battle, Lieb was able to retake third on lap 40, maintaining the position until the next pit stop on lap 75, during which he handed the car over to Dumas. A solid stint meant the gap to P2 had closed considerably by lap 110 when the car was once again pitted and Lieb took over. After being overtaken by Hartley in the sister car on lap 127, Lieb drives an almost flawless stint, only stopping for rain tyres on lap 137. However, contact with an LMP2 car on lap 148 ripped off some of the rear bodywork and race control eventually dictated the car was pitted to be fixed on lap 154. Once out again, the combination of rain tyres and a drying track meant Lieb was a sitting duck and eventually succumbed to the Toyota of Sarrazin on lap 166. A change to intermediate tyres and latterly slicks righted the situation and after a dice with Toyota, the 919 Hybrid was driven home in fourth by Dumas.
Marc Lieb said; “Having started second, finishing fourth is not what we had hoped for. The start wasn’t easy. The Audis played very well together and I was surprised by Brendon. Later in the race, when we had drizzle and rain, the track conditions were tricky. Several times our tyre choice wasn’t right. For us there was more within reach today and, therefore, we feel a bit disappointed.”
Race result 6 Hours of Mexico (Mex):
|1.||Webber/Hartley/Bernhard||Porsche 919 Hybrid||230 laps|
|2.||Fassler/Lotterer||Audi R18||230 laps|
|3.||Sarrazin/Conway/Koayashi||Toyota TS050||230 laps|
|4.||Dumas/Jani/Lieb||Porsche 919 Hybrid||230 laps|
Drivers’ World Championship after four out of nine rounds:
|3.||Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis||Audi||75 points|
Constructors’ World Championship:
The victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez makes this the fourth for the season, and it puts Porsche 43 points ahead in the manufacturers’ championship on 201 points. Audi follows with 158 point and Toyota lies third with 112 points. The next round of the WEC takes place on September 13th in the USA at the Circuit of the Americas.