Aston Martin Racing’s dominance of the two LMGTE categories of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) opening Six Hours of Silverstone was complete, with V8 Vantages winning both the Pro and Am categories in the team’s home event.
The weekend began with worries that an off-season leap from one to four cars would prove too much for the team, but front row lock-outs in both classes must have allayed those fears even before the start of the race.
All the Aston Martins held their qualifying positions in the opening stint, Stefan Mucke leading Pedro Lamy in LMGTE Pro, Jamie Campbell–Walter heading Allan Simonsen in LMGTE Am, though both men were undoubtedly the ‘pro’ allowed in the category as the kept up with the tail of the Pro class cars while pulling away from their their closest class rivals earlier on represented by Marco Cioci in the AF Corse Ferrari 458.
Predictably pulling away into a similarly comfortable lead was tougher for Mucke and Lamy against the pair of AF Corse Ferrari and Team Manthey Porsche AG 991 shape 911s. With Lamy a de facto rear-gunner running at the head of a three car train ahead of Gimmi Bruni’s Ferrari and Patrick Pilet’s Porsche Mucke was able to make good his escape, leading by 12 seconds at the end of the opening through by that point the #99 had been shuffled back to third place Lamy having lost out to both Bruni and Pilet before he handed over to Paul Dalla Lana on the hour mark.
With Dalla Lana at the wheel for his lone stint the car fell back from the lead group, though was still helped up a position by a brief spell in the garage for the #91 Porsche before deposing the AF Corse entry of Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella to move back into the podium positions.
In the closing stages Fred Makowiecki threatened to make it an even better day for Aston Martin as he closed in on Kamui Kobayashi in the second AF Corse car that he shared with Finn Toni Vilander. In the final half hour Makowiecki – making his Aston Martin Racing debut – was closing in on Kobayashi at the same rate, and from the same distance, as Allan McNish was counting down to the pass that would decide the overall victory.
However, having cut the gap to ten seconds the interval between the two suddenly stagnated, the Frenchman unable to get any closer to the Ferrari, eventually finishing 12.5 seconds behind in third place. Together with the #92 Porsche and the Bruni/Fisichella Ferrari the second and third placed men finished with a total of 170, all one shy of the total completed by the Aston of Mucke, Darren Turner and Bruno Senna, the trio leading every single lap in the class in a perfect start to the WEC in the manufacturer’s centenary year.
There was also an Aston ahead for every lap in LMGTE Am, though in that class the leading was shared between both the 2012-spec Vantages.
Jamie Campbell-Walter led from the start but his #96 would fall away, second driver in Roald Goethe unable to maintain the pace needed to keep the class lead a task not helped by a pair of spins in the rain shower than fell at the beginning of the third hour. While Campbell-Walter gave way to Goethe at the first round of pitstops, their LMGTE Am teammates, the all-Danish team of Allan Simonsen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen opted for double stints throughout with Simonsen in to begin the race.
By the time Simonsen had completed his assignment, handing over to Christoffer Nygaard at the very start of the third hour with the better part of a lap advantage, having initially taken the lead at the first round of stops. That advantage set-up the second half of Aston’s dominant day as the trio won by three laps, their performance good enough to take advantage of the briefly delayed #91 Porsche to split the LMGTE Pro field in the overall standings.
With the #95 clear out front the interest late in the class was – like in the Pro ranks – the battle for second. However, unlike in the Pro ranks Fernando Rees actually complete the task of catching Rui Aguas in the 8Star Motorsports Ferrari, but was unable to immediately take the place with the minutes ticking away.
After being passed by the Audis, similarly fighting only for the overall lead, Aguas led Rees’ Larbre Competition Corvette through Stowe into Vale, but as Aguas pulled across to take the defensive line for the club chicane there was contact between the Corvette and the left-rear corner of the orange Ferrari. The result – the rear bumper of the Ferrari pushed onto the tyre – was signalled by the smoke that started billowing almost immediately.
The tyre held on, and Aguas on to second until Brooklands the following lap when – the tyre now punctured – Aguas ran wide allowing Rees into second place.
Impressively Aguas was able to bring the Ferrari around to the pits for a new tyre, holding onto third place ahead of the #96 of Campbell-Walter, Goethe and Stuart Hall.