Andre Lotterer led Tom Kristensen in an Audi Sport 1-2 at half way of the Six Hours of Silverstone after three hours of racing in which the German manufacturer has taken control of the race over Toyota.
The Toyota started from the front row but it took only 11 minutes for Allan McNish to pass both TS030 – started by Alex Wurz and Anthony Davidson – to take the lead, with Benoit Treluyer taking second place a few minutes later in the #1 Audi that started fifth about the Frenchman’s qualifying struggles yesterday.
Once ahead the two Audis started to pull away from their hybrid rivals, aided by tyre graining problems for Alex Wurz in the #7 Toyota as he dropped to fourth behind Davidson.
Settled into the lead McNish gave way to Loic Duval after a race opening double stint, Marcel Fassler replacing Treluyer when the #1 team pitted a lap later, the two e-tron quattro on an almost identical schedule. It was Duval and Fassler who swapped the lead as the pace of the race slowed with short sharp shower that left many on track tip-toeing on slick tyres on a greasy track. The change in weather was sufficient for some to feel the need to change onto intermediate tyres, Nicolas Lapierre pitting the #7 Toyota to swap from slick onto Michelin ‘hybrid’ Intermediates.
For a short time the change looked a wise move, Lapierre able to drive around both Audis as they fought for the lead. However, the rain was blown over again by the stiff Silverstone breeze and Lapierre was soon lapping slower again than the two Audis before being forced to pit to swap back to slicks.
The rain also caught out John Martin who spun exiting the final corner, nosing into the pit wall in the #26 Delta–ADR/G-Drive Racing ORECA-Nissan. The Australian had driven from fourth to the LMP2 class lead in his stint following Mike Conway into the car. He passed both the #35 and #24 OAK Racing cars in a single lap before passing the sister G-Drive liveried car for the class lead.
However the spin, which damaged the front of the car handed the lead of the class back to Tor Graves in the #25 which led the class to the half way point. While the pair of OAK Morgan’s Martin had passed remained close challengers some of their LMP2 rivals hit troubles earlier with both Lotus struggling on the race debut for the T128 chassis. Tonio Liuzzi was forced to pit several times in the opening laps in the #31 example, troubled with a opening left-side door. Jan Charouz, starting the #32 meanwhile was an innocent victim of Nicolas Minassian’s over zealous overtaking move at Village, which resulted in damage both of the Lotus and Minassian’s Pecom Racing car. The Frenchman was also given a sop go penalty for the move.
Matthew Howson spun the KCMG Morgan twice – once on the formation, once after contact with Chris Dyson in the Greaves Motorsport LMP2 Zytek.
The biggest incident, however, caused the retirement of the Strakka Racing LMP1. Jonny Kane had pulled the car up to the LMP1 battle after having to start at the rear of the field after problems in qualifying. But, shortly after taking over the car, Nick Leventis was forced wide through Farm, spinning the car and collecting the #61 LMGTE Am Ferrari of AF Corse. Leventis was forced to retire while the Ferrari, driven at the time by Jack Gerber returned to the garage for a lengthy repair.
Both LMGTE classes were dominated by Aston Martin Racing throughout the first three hours. The team’s four cars held onto their 1-2 in both classes in the early stages, though Pedro Lamy dropped from second to fourth in LMGTE Pro during the opening hour.
The other 2013-spec Vantage led almost unchallenged in the class, cycling through drivers Stefan Mucke, Darren Turner and Bruno Senna in the first half of the race.
In the #96 Jamie Campbell–Walter led the LMGTE Am ranks early on ahead of Allan Simonsen in the #95 but gave up the lead to hand the car over to Roald Goethe at the end of the opening hour. Goethe was another caught out by the rain, surviving a couple of lurid but otherwise harmless spins.
With their problems it was the Danish crewed Vantage started by Simonsen who led the class at half way by two laps ahead of the 8 Star Motorsports Ferrari.