Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Toyota dominate as Audi suffer - 6 Hours of Silverstone Review

Toyota dominated the first round of the 2014 World Endurance Championship with a convincing 1-2 in the 6 Hours of Silverstone.

An early change to intermediate tyres put the car of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre in a commanding position and with the first hour out of the way, the number 8 car was never challenged, eventually winning by over a lap.

Porsche completed the podium on their return to the top echelon of professional sports car racing with the 20 car of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley finishing third in the first outing for the new 919 Hybrid. The other Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Leib however, retired early in the race with hydraulic issues.

Also retiring from the race were both Audis. Despite leading early on, the reigning world champions’ pair of diesel hybrids both retired with crash damage.

Former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi didn’t even make it to the hour mark before he crashed as the rain arrived. A resulting suspension issue put paid to the number 1 car’s chances whilst the sister R18 e-tron Quattro suffered damage when Benoit Treluyer hit the barriers at Copse.

Despite his best efforts, the damage was too much and it brought an early end to the weekend for Audi. They now face a race against time to get two new cars built for the next round in Spa.

Audi weren’t the only world champions to endure a trying weekend at Silverstone.

Despite starting on pole in the GTE Pro class, Ferrari couldn’t make the most of their straight line speed advantage and after being passed by the pair of factory Porsche 911s, never looked like they had a chance of victory. A pit lane speeding penalty, and then a flash fire for their lead car of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander left them further back with the 51 car of Bruni and Vilander eventually settling for fourth. Their second car, the 71 driven by Davide Rigon and sports car newcomer James Calado came home fifth in what was a trying weekend for the Italian outfit.

Porsche meanwhile dominated the class. After taking the lead on track in the first half of the race, they claimed a comfortable 1-2 finish with the lead Aston martin of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke taking third.

Aston Martin took GTE Am class honours with the number 95 car of Danish Trio David Heinemeier Hansson, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim heading home team mates Paul Dalla Lana, Christoffer Nygaard and former F1 driver Pedro Lamy. Ferrari was able to salvage something from their weekend, with third place in GTE Am thanks to Stephen Wyatt, Michele Rugolo and Sam Bird.

With only four cars entered, the LMP2 class was always going to be superseded by the strongly represented LMP1 and GTE categories.

Despite delays under safety cars to fix damage, G-Drive racing took the LMP2 win with the Morgan-Nissan of Olivier Pla, Romain Rusinow and Julien Canal ahead of the KCMG ORECA-Nissan of Tsugio Matsuda, Matt Howson and Richard Bradley.

All images © Dominik Wilde 2014

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