eRacing Magazine Vol 2. Issue 9 - Page 21

Race - 6 Hours of COTA

The 31-entry endurance race, held from late afternoon through the Texas summer night, saw Porsche at the lead in three of four World Endurance Championship classes during much of the evening.

The #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car, piloted by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, and Brendon Hartley, scored their second victory in a row after their sister car was limped across the finish line following late-breaking electrical problems. The sudden garaging of the #18 Porsche, which was on its way to a win by Romain Dumas until the last 33 minutes of the race, allowed Audi to take the left and right podium steps and Toyota to taste a hint of a larger points gain with a 4th place finish.

Though the dominance by Porsche is no surprise by now, Audi are still the points leaders. Today’s win by the #17 Porsche reduced the gap to only ten points from André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer, and Marcel Fässler’s #7 Audi Team Joest. However, it was a mixed bag of success and loss as the stewards handed down one penalty after another – one of them being a stop and go for the #17 Porsche as a mechanic illegally made contact with the car between a driver switch from Hartley to Webber.

The indiscretion resulted in a full minute stop-go penalty, which – combined with Webber’s “first and last” mistake of completely missing the pit entry – cost the team precious time and allowed the #18 Porsche to take the lead. With Mark Lieb, Neel Jani, and Romain Dumas in charge, it seemed that a Porsche-Porsche-Audi podium was locked down — until the last half-hour’s electrical issues emerged. Despite the drama, the injured 919 was able to take home fifth in class.

Audi’s #8 e-tron quattro was not immune to a stop and go penalty, either. During a pit stop, a mechanic dropped a wheel which meant Loïc Duval paid for the error with a 1-minute halt. Teammates Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis put in time to get the car to third place.

Toyota is still pushing hard with their #1 and #2 TS 040 Hybrids. The problems in the Porsche garage, plus a one minute stop and go penalty, meant the #1 took fourth place. The #2 was making gains

before Mike Conway lost control of the car while trying to overtake an Aston Martin.

In the LMP1 privateer class, serious technical issues for both Rebellion R-One AERs allowed Pierre Kaffer and Simon Trummer’s ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER to take a class victory for the second time in a row.

LMP2 had G-Drive Racing’s Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov, and Julien Canal lead the class after putting up a long fight with KCMG ORECA and collected their hard-earned points. Nicolas Lapierre, Matt Howson and Richard Bradley staged a herculean comeback from the rear of the grid to lead the class, but their second place enabled the Chinese-Anglo outfit to retain their championship lead.

Porsche showed their competitive spirit in to the LMGTE categories, both Pro and Am. In Pro, Porsche Team Manthey took both the top spots with their 911 RSRs. Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen secured the win with their #91 car when the second to last pit stop was quick enough to beat the #92 car of Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet.

The real drama in this class surrounded the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia. A broken door closing mechanism meant multiple track limit penalties, black-and-orange flags, and a scramble in the garage as the team struggled to repair the door. After the team spent precious minutes working on a replacement door, the Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander pair was able to capture only seventh place.

LMGTE Am had its own inter-class battles as well, with Pat Long in the Dempsey-Proton Porsche exchanging places with the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia, Abu-Dhabi Proton racing Porsche, and the AF Corse Ferrari for the first hour. At times the cars were three-wide across COTA’s multi-apex turns under the famous observation tower. At the end, the SMP Racing Ferrari took the win along with a 35-point lead among competitors.

Next up for WEC is a trip to Fuji, Japan, for the sixth round to be held this weekend on October 10th.