Porsche Take One-Two in Mexico City

by Alice Holloway

As the World Endurance Championship takes to Mexico City for the final time, Porsche have left their mark by locking out the front row ahead of the 6 Hours of Mexico. It was a close battle between Porsche and Toyota Gazoo Racing who had both taken the fastest time in practice sessions. The sole Signatech Alpine took pole in the LMP2 class ahead of championship leaders in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing. Ferrari took the advantage in LM GTE Pro with Sam Bird and Davie Rigon whilst the pole position point went to Porsche and the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing.

Driver’s Championship leaders Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard set an unbeatable pace ahead of the last six hour enudrance race at the newely reinstated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Although the battle for the top three was close, Porsche LMP1 Team held the advantage, ending with both of their cars 0.2 seconds ahead of the fastest Toyota. Hartley set the pace in the first run from the LMP1 drivers, with teammate Andre Lotterer setting a faster lap in the second outing from the sister car. However, the 1:24.665 from Bernhard was enough to keep the #2 Prsche just ahead of the #1.

Jose Maria Lopez was given a second set of tyres after his first run was a tenth off the pace teammate Mike Conway had set in the #7 before him. However, the was no improvement for Lopez to find as his second lap was impeeded by a LMP2 car. It was a bad day fr the #8 champion-contending Toyota as neither Sebasiten Buemi or Kazuki Nakajima could break into the 1m25s. They start fourth on the grid with an average time tht was 0.8 seconds off the pace of the Porsches.

Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao were matched on pace as they took the #36 Signatech Alpine to pole position. This is the first race that #26 G-Drive has not taken outright pole position. Negrao opened with a fastest lap of 1:32.775, which was matched by Lapierre with a 1:32.844 giving an average of 1:32.809. Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung could not get any closer than three-tenths off the fastest average, putting the LMP2-leading car second on the grid. Julien Canal and Bruno Senna were half a second behind the leading pair, rounding up the top three in the #31 Vailante Rebellion.

AF Corse take Pole Position ahead of Aston Martin in LM GTE Pro

The LMGTE qualifying session was lead by Bird and Rigon, who took pole position for AF Corse. After Bird missed the 6 Hours of Nurburgring due to a clash with the final Formula e race, the British driver was back on form to help put the Ferrari at the front of the grid. However, the pole position did not come easy for the team. Rigon had to abort his first flying lap and could only go third fastest on his second attempt. It was down to Bird to find the extra time to promote the AF Corse to the front of the grid. He did with style. Taking the fastest lap of the session, Bird brought their average up to 1:39.425 to take class pole by just over a tenth of a second.

It was a session of the second drviers as Nicki Thiim set the second fastest lap of the session, promoting the #95 Aston Martin Racing from seventh to second. Ford had a one-two on the grid after the first round of runs but improvement from the other teams saw them slip down. Championship-leading #67, in the hands of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, had to settle for third with the sister car behind in fourth as nether Fords could match the pace of the leading duo.

The #98 Aston Martin Racing is ususally the one to watch in qualifying for LM GTE Am, and the same was the casae for this session. It was a close fight between Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy in the #98, and Matteo Cairoli and Christain Ried in the #77 Porsche, but in the end the glory went to the #77. Just a tenth split the two cars as the chequered flag fell, with Lamy and Dalla Lana lookin to take their fourth class pole of the season. The Aston Martin is always a car to keep an eye on in the race and it will be interesting to see how the fair over the 6-hour endurance race.

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