6H Mexico: Porsche leads Audi at halfway

Porsche leads Audi at the halfway stage of the Mexican round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The first half of the race featured an exciting lead battle between the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid and the pole-sitting #8 Audi R18, with the former leading after three hours.

Brendon Hartley held a lead of 6.140 seconds to Loic Duval at the turn of the hour, with the #2 Porsche of Marc Lieb a further 14 seconds back in third.

At the start, Andre Lotterer took the lead from third on the grid in the #7 Audi with a lunge inside Duval at turn one. The Audis ran in tandem for much of the opening stint, with Hartley chasing hard in third.

The New Zealander took second place with a smart move on Lotterer after 30 minutes, with things going from bad to worse for the German driver when he was caught out by the first of two full course yellows.

Lotterer opted for an earlier than expected pit stop under green flag conditions, but when he returned to the track a full course yellow was called to retrieve a stricken LMP2 car. That gave the other LMP1 cars an advantage and dropped the #7 Audi down the order. After three hours, Marcel Fassler is currently driving the car in fifth overall, two laps down on the leader.

After the second round of stops, Mark Webber took the lead with an overtake on Lucas di Grassi in the #8 Audi. The Australian then handed the #2 Porsche over to Bernhard, who continues to lead the race.

Toyota had a tough start to the race, with the #5 TS050 Hybrid retiring with an early electrical issue. The sister #6 car didn’t fare much better, with Mike Conway getting a drive through penalty for clashing with the LMP2 class ESM Ligier.

In LMP2, Signatech Alpine led at halfway with 14 seconds separating Stephane Richelmi from the second placed G-Drive ORECA of Alex Brundle.

GTE-Pro has so far been dominated by the #95 Aston Martin driven by pole-sitters Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen.

The pair ended the third hour with an eight advantage over the sister #97 machine, with the Proton Racing Porsche 911 completing the top three.

In GTE-Am, Abu Dhabi Proto Racing has led from the start with its Porsche. At halfway, Khaled al Quibaisi led Rui Aguas in the AF Corse Ferrari by 29 seconds.

The #98 Aston Martin, which was denied pole position by a post-qualifying penalty, lost five laps to the class leader when Paul Dalla Lana was punted into the tyre barrier by a GTE-Pro Ford GT.