Porsche extend Championship lead thanks to Team Orders


Credit: Brenda Washbourne

Timo BernhardBrendon Hartley and Earl Bamber secured the #2 Porsche‘s fourth consecutive win of the 2017 World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of the Americas. However, it had been the sister car that had dominated the 6 Hours of COTA and team orders that saw the #2 on top of the podium. In LMP2, Nicolas LapierreGustavo Menezes and Andre Negrao had an easy six hours to take their first win of the season.

There looked like there could be a race on the cards at the start of the 6-hour American endurance race. Toyota Gazoo Racing managed to get into the Porsche front row lock out to push championship-leading #2 down to fourth. For the first half of the race, there was nothing Hartley, Bamber or Bernhard could do to pass the Japanese team and had to push hard to keep the top three within catching distance. Toyota even took the lead of the race after the first round of pit stops and kept Porsche on their toes to keep them close.

But after the mid-race safety car it became clear that Toyota did not have the pace to keep Porsche behind. The two Porsche shot off into the distance, managing to knock Toyota off the lead lap as they fought between themselves. At the end of the race, it was the #8 Toyota of Sebastien BuemiKazuki Nakajima and standing in Stephane Sarrazin who rounded off the overall podium, 20 seconds behind the leading Porsches. The #7 Toyota was fourth, around 20 seconds off the pace of the #8.

It was Neel JaniAndre Lotterer and Nick Tandy‘s race to lose this weekend as they proved to have the edge over the sister car. Tandy was 15 seconds ahead of Bamber as the race came to an end, and they would have definitely had enough to keep the #2 car comfortably behind them. But team orders came into play, and Tandy pulled over and significantly slowed the car so that Bamber could storm passed into the lead. The pair crossed the line separated by merely two-tenths of a second, with Tandy making it very clear on track that they had the pace to beat the sister car.

A nice lights-to-victory race saw the #36 Signatech Alpine take their first win of the season

The #36 Signatech Alpine made it look easy s they took a simple lights-to-flag victory. It is the first victory of the season for the LMP2 reigning champions. However, a last minute scare made the team concerned that all of their hard work would have been in vein.

Lapierre had had around a minute advantage on the second-placed car when they noticed a faulty brake light on the back of the #36. With just a minute of the race left, the team decided to pit to avoid any post-race penalties for having a car that was not completely working. It was a close moment for the team, but Lapierre managed to get back inot the lead after the rear bodywork was changed and still take the chequered flag with about a 20 second lead on second place.

The two Vaillante Rebellions finished up the top three in the LMP2 class, with the #13 of Nelson Piquet JrMathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson claiming second place. Bruno SennaNicolas Prost and Julien Canal had to settle for third place, 3.775 seconds behind.  After having lost 20 seconds in a pit stop it was a good recovery from the team. Championship-leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing was fourth, a further five seconds behind the #31 ORECA 07/Gibson machine.