Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Audi win thrilling 6 Hours of Silverstone

Audi claimed victory in the opening round of the 2015 Word Endurance Championship season, holding off the #18 Porsche despite a late pit stop and penalty to take the marques' first win since the 6 Hours of COTA last year.

After making a clean sweep of the practice sessions, Audi missed out on pole position after Porsche locked out the front row and it was the pair of 919 Hybrids that were at the head of the field in the early stages.

However, the #17 Porsche with Mark Webber behind the wheel was forced to make an unscheduled early pit stop with gearbox issues. The 2014 6 Hours of Sao Paulo winners were forced to retire, handing the lead to the sister Porsche.

Despite faster straight line speed, Porsche was not as fast as Audi's turbo diesel hybrid in race trim and in the fourth hour of the race Andre Lotterer moved Audi's #7 entry into the lead.

Sebastien Buemi in the #1 Toyota also moved ahead of the sole remaining Porsche but while most prototypes opted for a late race pit stop, Porsche decided to save fuel, allowing them to skip a late race stop and take back second.

There was a scare for the leading Audi late on when they were given a stop-and-go penalty for passing outside of the track limits. Nevertheless, Neel Jani in the charging Porsche couldn't quite close the gap, eventually finishing a mere 4.6 seconds back in second place.

The #1 Toyota finished in third, the last car on the lead lap. The second Toyota finished one lap down with the second Audi a further 3 laps back.

In LMP2, G-Drive took a clear one-two finish with Extreme Speed Motorsport' #30 finishing third on the road. However, the Floridian outfit lost the podium finish after an irregularity with the underfloor skin plate was discovered in the post-race inspection. That promoted Strakka Racing into the final podium finish.

In GTE Pro, reigning champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander used an early safety car period to perfection to move to the front. It could have been a one-two finish for Ferrari but the #91 Porsche of Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz leapfrogged Davide Rigon and James Calado's 458 in a late pit stop, eventually finishing ten seconds behind the class winners.

Although unable to capitalise on their GTE Pro pole position, in GTE Am, Aston Martin finished where they started with the #98 of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana taking class honours ahead of a pair of AF Corse Ferraris.

All images: Dominik Wilde

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