WEC: 919s & RSR Finish On Podium
Changeable conditions and an aerodynamic disadvantage proved challenging for Porsche at Silverstone…
‘Stronger than expected’ was the official line from Porsche about the performance of its 919 Hybrids at the opening round of the WEC at Silverstone, that was following the Porsche pairing finishing second and third. That tells you something about the perceived challenge 2017 will present to the team, not least thanks to what it describes as a ‘significant aerodynamic disadvantage’ over its rivals. In reality more than 50,000 fans at Silverstone watched an impressive performance from Toyota over the course of the meeting, with Porsche very much trailing in its wake.
The No1 car of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Briton Nick Tandy qualified third, one place ahead of the No2 Porsche of Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley. With Jani taking the first stint he slipped back behind the sister car in the first part of the opening lap, pitting after 28 laps for fuel only and continuing in P4. Hartley, having moved up from fourth to third followed into the pits just one lap later, emerging back into third spot. At the second round of stops for fuel and tyres on lap 57, Tandy took over the No1 car, moving it up to third on lap 64 ahead of the No7 Toyota after it appeared to have an issue. Bernhard, now driving the No2 car moved up to second for the same reason.
At the third round of stops Tandy stopped for fuel only, mounting a challenge on the No8 Toyota thereafter. Just a few laps later rain forced the Briton back into the pits though for intermediate tyres, when Lotterer took over on lap 98 he opted to return to slicks, and the car sat in third spot behind No2 sister Porsche, which had mirrored the No1 car’s tyre choices through the changeable conditions. On lap 117, the No7 Toyota crashed bringing out the safety car, during that yellow flag period both Lotterer and Bamber refuelled. Tandy took over the No1 car again on lap 141, On lap 149, Hartley took over the sister car to chase the leading Toyota. When Hartley pitted for his final stop after 178 laps, he led the race by almost one minute, but during a thrilling battle for the lead, the Kiwi driver lost out to Sebastien Buemi in the Toyota on lap 190 of 197. The Toyota benefitted from fresher tyres and better aerodynamics due to its high downforce configuration. Tandy followed Hartley home in third spot.
Vice President of LMP1, Fritz Enzinger, said: “This was a thriller for us as well as for the spectators. Due to our consequent decision for the low-downforce aero package, as expected we couldn’t be a threat in qualifying. Therefore, we are even happier about today’s second and third place with such a marginal gap to the winners. Our low downforce aerodynamic package now has its most difficult race behind it.”
After his first race as a regular 919 Hybrid driver, Briton Nick Tandy said: “I felt comfortable with the car and all went well in my opening stint. It rained just after we had stopped for fuel. We had to do an extra stop for tyres which was a shame and that dropped us down. We rolled the dice on strategy with our car in my final stint by taking tyres and although the pace was good, I couldn’t pull back the time. That said, I’m really optimistic for the future after such a good run with both cars in this set-up.”
Round two of the WEC takes place at Spa-Francorchamps on 6th May. Scroll down for news on the GTE-Pro class…
|1. Davidson, Nakajima, Buemi||Toyota TS050 Hybrid||197 laps|
|2. Bernhard, Hartley, Bamber||Porsche 919 Hybrid||
|3. Lotterer, Jani, Tandy||Porsche 919 Hybrid||
Drivers’ World Championship (LMP1):
|1. Davidson, Nakajima, Buemi||Toyota TS050 Hybrid||25 points|
|2. Bernhard, Hartley, Bamber||Porsche 919 Hybrid||18 points|
|3. Lotterer, Jani, Tandy||Porsche 919 Hybrid||15 points|
Constructors’ World Championship (LMP1):
RSR Claims GTE-Pro Podium
The new mid-engined 911 RSR started its maiden season in the WEC with a podium result in the GTE-Pro class. Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki qualified their No91 machine in third, and made a good start to the race. After 26 laps the No91 car was challenging for the lead, with the No92 sister car of Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen keeping it company. However, at just over the halfway mark, the No92 car had park up with a technical problem.
Makowiecki continued to make good progress though, when he took over driving duties from Lietz he promptly turned in the fastest lap of the race. With one hour and twelve minutes to go, he pulled into the pits as the leader. After a driver swap Makowiecki returned to the race in fourth, and with a breathtaking final push in the closing laps he managed to snatch third spot.
|1. Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani||Ford GT||171 laps|
|2. Calado/Pier||Ferrari 488 GTE||171 laps|
|3. Lietz/Makowiecki||Porsche 911 RSR||171 laps|
|DNF. Estre/Christensen||Porsche 911 RSR||DNF|