Andre Lotterer leads the 6 Hours of Silverstone at the half way point after he and his co-drivers – Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer – in the #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro came out on top of a number of battles through the first three hours of the race.
Lotterer took the lead shortly before the half way point, passing Anthony Davidson in the #1 Toyota TS040 at Village before pulling away.
Village, the first of the hairpins in the Arena section of the Silverstone Grand Prix track, was a good corner for the Audi crew as in the previous stint Marcel Fassler had been able to take the lead on several occasions from Neel Jani in the #18 Porsche. Those stays in the lead always proved brief as though the Audi appeared to have the advantage under braking the Porsche’s superior straight line speed pushed the 919 Hybrid ahead down the Wellington straight.
Their battle was only brought to a close by a sequence of pitstops, Fassler giving way to Lotterer with Jani giving his car over to Romain Dumas a few laps later.
Their fight – complicated by the #8 Audi unlapping itself after losing time with rear body work damage – had allowed Davidson to close up and by virtue of a fuel only stop in the third hour of the race the reigning champion was able to put the Toyota into the lead.
The sister Toyota had also spent time in the lead, helped forward by the strategy of taking advantage of both full course cautions to make pitstops. In the hands of Mike Conway, the car reached the half way point in fourth, more than a minute off the lead.
From the start of the race Mark Webber moved into the lead from pole position, pulling away from the sister Porsche. However, only an hour and twenty minutes Webber was called into the pits, the team having diagnosed a gearbox problem from the pitwall and taking the decision to bring the car in before the issue became terminal. The car has not been on track since.
As Webber jumped into the lead in the earliest corners of the race the #7 Audi struggled to get up speed, being swamped by the LMP2 field off the rolling start before slicing his way back into the early LMP1 exchanges.
The pair of G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan are first and second in LMP2, though they lost their advantage in the early laps of the race to Nick Tandy in the KCMG Oreca coupe. Tandy, on loan from Porsche in preparation of his LMP1 turn at Le Mans, took the lead from the start but first Sam Bird in the #26, then Luis Felipe Derani in the #28 got past the Briton into positions their cars would hold all the way through to the half way mark.
The KCMG car, on the other hand lost 14 laps to the class leaders, allowing the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD into third place. Strakka Racing’s Dome S103 is fourth in class, despite Danny Watts shooting into the gravel on the very first turn of the race.
The LMP2 was also the source of the only full course cautions of the first half when Paul-Loup Chatin span the Signatech Alpine into the barriers at Copse. One caution was required to recover the stricken #36, a second – some minutes later – called out to allow marshals to finish repairing the section of barrier he struck.
Nowhere – save for the Signatech pits – did the Chatin’s off have a greater impact than in LMGTE Pro.
Nicki Thiim led the class from the off, building – for himself – the largest lead of all classes in the early laps. Thiim – as well as fellow Aston Martin Racing men Darren Turner and Richie Stanaway stayed out under the full course yellow, as did Richard Lietz in the #91 Porsche. They – in turn pitted under green flag conditions allowing the pair of AF Corse Ferrari and the #92 Porsche – driven by Patrick Pilet moved to the top of the class.
The #92 car leads the class at half way just ahead of the #51 Ferrari of Gimmi Bruni and Toni Vilander and while the sister #71 of Davide Rigon and James Calado is out of position having recently made a scheduled pit visit the comfortable margin between the leaders and the #91 Porsche is a result of the early split strategies.
The teams in LMGTE Am similarly went their separate ways under the yellows, but with fewer lasting results.
At the half way point in the race it is the AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo and Rui Aguas that leads the class ahead of the Aston Martin Racing #98 that started on pole position by fell down the order in the early laps, the battle for the lead then, instead, being between the #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche and the Larbre Competition Corvette.