Marcel Fassler and the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest team survived a late scare to take victory in the 6 Hours of Silverstone to begin the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
The team, Fassler joined by Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer began the final hour with a clear advantage over their chief rivals in the #18 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid. The Porsche squad made their tactical move at the final pitstop, keeping Neel Jani in the cockpit and changing only the left side tyres for the final stint around the clockwise circuit.
The move brought the team back some of the one minute plus of arrears to the Audi in the lead, but the 37 seconds Fassler had in hand after his own tactical final stop should have been enough to comfortably give the three time 24 Hours of Le Mans winning crew an RAC Tourist Trophy win to add to their racing CVs.
But the race had a final twist, the #7 handed a stop go penalty for gaining an advantage by running off track. Confirmed before their stop Fassler came back into the pits a lap after the splash-and-dash, returning to the track just a dozen seconds ahead of Jani. The Porsche has the speed advantage, the 919’s superior straight line performance added to by the additional grip of two fresher tyres, but the race was in the hands of the slower traffic.
Closing in throughout the final twelve minutes Jani finished the race just 4.6 seconds behind at the line with Sebastien Buemi wheeling the #1 Toyota to the line in third place, just a further ten seconds behind. The #2 Toyota and #8 Audi finished fifth and sixth overall, and in class.
Sam Bird secured LMP2 victory for G-Drive Racing’s #26 crew of he, Julien Canal and Roman Rusinov. The Russian entered team’s dominance of the Silverstone weekend was confirmed with a 1-2 finish. However, Luis Felipe Derani anchored the #28 team home a lap in arrears, an additional pitstop at the root of the lost time. Extreme Speed Motorsports’ #30 squad of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson completed the class podium another lap off the class pace, but five ahead of the Strakka Racing Dome.
The #92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR that led the LMGTE Pro class at the three hour mark was taken out of the battle by a broken front damper that necessitated a brief visit to the garage. They were replaced in the lead fight by the sister Porsche of Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz which ended the race splitting the pair of AF Corse Ferraris that had been the mainstay of the lead battle since the first hour of the race.
Christensen crossed the line ten seconds behind Gimmi Bruni in the winning #51 Ferrari co-driven by Toni Vilander. The duo of Davide Rigon and James Calado finished third, officially a lap ahead of the best of the Aston Martin Racing entries, that of Danes Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Christoffer Nygaard, the pole winners and early leaders never able to make up the time lost during the early exchanges of pitstops.
The polesitting Aston Martin did regain the lead in LMGTE Am, Pedro Lamy braving a splash-and-dash stop in the final few minutes to win the class by 13 seconds in the car co-driven by Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda. The #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas finished in second with the SMP Racing entered Ferrari of Victor Shaytar, Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov completing the class podium.
www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have full race reports for both the LMP and the LMGTE classes of the race, as well as reaction from the teams and drivers in the coming days.