The first round of the World Endurance Championship (FIAWEC) got underway from Silverstone and here is what happened
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.
“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.”
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 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 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.
“Sam (Bird) did the perfect job today so I have to say thank you to him and also to Julien (Canal) who was also very good. We just didn’t take any risks as we know we have a good car. But I had some problems with the Strakka because when I was lapping this car it was touching me and I lost 8-seconds which was not too bad. But the team were excellent again all weekend and we are very happy.”
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.
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.
“It has been a great end to what was a very awkward weekend for us. We had a lot of issues on Friday and also Saturday and we changed half of the car. In FP2 I did not drive a single lap and then on Saturday morning it was raining.
“Pitting under the full course yellow for sure helped us and it was a big part of the race for us. At the end of the day we never gave up. It was a big fight and it shows this year it will be a tough battle in LMGTE Pro. Going to Spa we will have to improve a few things. But thanks to the team here for a great job and some hard work which paid off.”
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.
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.
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.
“For me it was all new to race with LMP1 cars and to be honest the speed difference shocked me a lot. To manage the traffic from behind was tough. But my goal was to make a clean race and keep it consistent and it all worked out mainly thanks to Pedro’s good work. In the end it was a good win but I think we will have to push more for the next race.”
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.