Audi win first WEC race at Silverstone

Track action (photo by Melissa Warren)Marcel Fässler, Benoit Tréluyer and Andre Lotterer became the latest names to be added to the impressive roll of honour on the base of the 110 year old Tourist Trophy

after Marcel Fässler took the chequered flag in the no7 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro to win the 6 Hours of Silverstone.

A 72 second lead for Fässler over fellow Swiss driver Neel Jani in the no18 Porsche 919 was reduced to just 11 with 15 minutes left on the clock when the no7 car was given a Stop-Go penalty for abusing track limits. This set up a great battle for the final few laps, but Marcel Fässler was able to hold on to the lead and take the win by just 4.6 seconds.

Marcel Fassler – Audi Sport Team Joest: “I must say this (the battle with Jani) was one of the best fights I have had in my whole career and I really enjoyed this whole race today. I have to say it was pretty fair from Neel who gave space and I think we raced well together. I must say it was a bit annoying him passing me on the straights like that! It was really a nice race to drive and I think what we showed today was great.”

Neel Jani – Porsche Team: “I definitely enjoyed the race with Marcel today, especially as I know we can trust each other driving side-by-side without actually touching. Obviously I couldn’t avoid smiling on the straights each time I went by him!

In LMP2 it was all smiles in the G-Drive Racing pit after the Russian team converted a 1-2 in qualifying into a 1-2 on the podium. The no26 G-Drive Racing Ligier of Roman Rusinov, Sam Bird and Julien Canal took the win, with the sister no28 car taking second place to score a 1-2 finish for the Russian team.

The no17 Porsche of Mark Webber led the race for the first 80 minutes but a drive train issue forced the Australian into the pits and into retirement. The no18 Porsche took over the top spot but had to contend with the Audi R18s which closed up on the twisty parts of the Silverstone track. However once on the long straights the Porsche would pull away, only to be caught again on the twisty stuff, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats.

By Lap 56 Neel Jani in the Porsche and Marcel Fässler in the Audi were battling hard for position while the two Toyotas of Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway were 3rd and 4th respectively, with Davidson just 3.8 seconds behind the duo at the front of the field.

Davidson pitted on lap 79 followed by Fässler and Jani a lap later, with Davidson leading the race followed by Conway in the no2 Toyota. Andre Lotterer, now at the wheel of the no7 Audi, caught and passed Conway’s Toyota, the German then began the process of catching the lead car of the reigning world champion. It took until lap 96 until Lotterer could make the move into Village corner but once he was in front Lotterer set about building an unassailable lead. With 60-minutes of the race remaining Lotterer pitted to hand over the car to Fässler for the final part of the race.

The Swiss driver had a huge lead over the no18 Porsche of Jani but a late stop-go penalty for abusing track limits upset the plans of the Audi Sport team. It seemed that the no7 Audi, with a 72 second lead, would be able to pit and come back out still with a healthy lead. However when Fässler came in, he stopped at his pitbox to refuel the car, which meant he had to come back in for a second stop on the following lap to serve his penalty. Everyone held their breath to see if the no7 Audi would emerge still in the lead, which it did with an 8 second gap with less than 15 minutes remaining on the clock.

Jani sensed an opportunity to snatch the victory and the no18 Porsche started to close the gap but there wasn’t enough time to catch the leading Audi. The no7 Audi took the flag 4.6 seconds ahead of the no18 Porsche with Sebastien Buemi claiming the third spot on the podium just 5.6 seconds behind the Porsche.

In LMP2 Nick Tandy in the KCMG Oreca05-Nissan got a great start to take the lead in the LMP2 category but had to fend off the attentions of the two G-Drive Racing Ligiers. Sam Bird took the lead on lap 6 but Tandy was still able to mount a challenge. However KCMG’s race came to an end when a holed radiator forced the Oreca into the pits for a long stop. The car did emerge from the garage to finish the race and be classified one place behind the brand new Strakka-Dome of Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane.

The no36 Signatech Alpine of Paul Loup Chatin had a big off at Copse, hitting the tyre wall hard. The French driver was unhurt but his car was too damaged to continue and causing a full course yellow period that slowed the race for a few laps.

The two G-Drive Ligiers continued to battle amongst themselves with Roman Rusinov holding the top spot from Gustavo Yacaman as the clock hit 3 hours remaining. This is how it remained during the second half of the race and by the chequered flag the no26 Ligier was a lap ahead of the no28 Nissan powered car and Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird were able to savour the view from the top step of the podium alongside teammates Gustavo Yacaman, Ricardo Gonzalez and Pipo Derani in second.

The no30 Tequila Patron sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD-Honda of Scott Sharp, David Heinmeier-Hansson and Ryan Dalziel finished the race in third place in what should be the last race for the older open cockpit ARX03B chassis. However in post race scrutineering the no30 ESM HPD was excluded from the results after the minimum thickness of the front and rear plank was under the 20mm minimum required and was in breach of Article 3.5.6a 3 of the LMP2 Technical Regulations. This promoted the no42 Strakka Racing Strakka Dome into third place.

AF Corse Ferrari and Aston Martin Racing take LMGTE class wins

Continuing their momentum from winning last season’s FIA World Endurance Cup and the GT Drivers’ title, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander scored a hard-earned victory in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari today in the 6 Hours of Silverstone.

The duo now has six LMGTE class wins together in the WEC. However, it is unlikely that they have fought for victory harder than they did at Silverstone today.

The race started in dramatic fashion for Bruni as he had to take avoiding action from the spinning OAK Racing Ligier in the opening laps. The incident ensured that Bruni emerged at the tail of the LMGTE Pro field with plenty of work to do to get back on terms.

From there, both he and Vilander charged through the field to head home the # 91Porsche Team Manthey car of Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen by just 10.664s.

The LMGTE Pro class podium was completed by the other AF Corse entry of James Calado and Davide Rigon. They had earlier led the class and battled furiously for the majority of it with the sister Ferrari 458 Italia, especially when Bruni and Calado were in the cars. The Italian champion eventually won the contest with the decisive move coming at the Aintree left-hander.

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Both of the AF Corse Ferrari performances were all the more impressive after practice problems with the Ferrari 458 Italia saw the team make significant changes to the car.

Aston Martin had initially led the class with a 1-2-3 but ultimately fell away, seemingly unable to match its qualifying pace in the longer stints. The British manufacturer completed the race fourth, fifth and sixth in class, finishing in the order of #95, #97 and #99.

Aston Martin Racing at least came away from Silverstone able to celebrate an impressive victory for the #98 Vantage V8 driven by Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy.

Mathias Lauda: “It was my first race with LMP1s on the same track and it was a bit of a shock managing the traffic. But I soon got used to it and learned a lot from Pedro. It went well for me but I know I have more to give.”

Lamy started the race and laid the foundations for the victory. Canadian Paul Dalla Lana, who along with Lamy had qualified the Aston Martin on class pole position, also completed two incident free stints. The team put their ultimate success down to pitting during the first Full Course Yellow.

The victory for the #98 Aston Martin, combined with the point gained in qualifying, ensures the team has had a perfect start to the season. The result also marked the first time a Lauda has won a World Championship event at Silverstone, although Mathias’ legendary father, Niki, won two British Grands Prix in the 1980s – both at Brands Hatch.

It was by no means a comfortable victory for the #98 Aston however. The AF Corse Ferrari of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas lead for sections of the race and took the chequered flag just 13.712s behind.

The SMP Racing entry of Victor Shaitar, Alexei Basov and Andrea Bertolini ensured that both of the Prancing Horse entries in LMGTE Am claimed podium positions at Silverstone today as they came home in third place.

Patrick Dempsey scored a solid sixth place in the LMGTE Am class at Silverstone in the Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Patrick Long and Marco Seefried. By Melissa Warren

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