Audi claimed a thrilling victory at the 6 Hours of Silverstone race that marked the first round of the 2015 FIA WEC season. All the podium places went to three different teams, proving just how competitive the race was. The #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fässler, Benoit Tréluyer and Andre Lotterer crossed the finish line first to win the race and they were also awarded the prestigious 110-year-old Tourist Trophy.
Neel Jani crossed the finish line 4.6 seconds later in the #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid to claim second place while Sebastien Buemi finished completed the top three in the #1 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid. The race started with Mark Webber in the lead piloting the #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid. The Australian led comfortably for the first 80 minutes but his car suffered a gearbox problem forcing him to retire. Sister car #18 Porsche took over the lead followed by a thirsty pack of two Audi R18s.
The Porsche was really quick on the straights but once in the corners the Audis were much quicker, which allowed Marcel Fässler to reduce the gap between him and the leading Porsche of Neel Jani. With 60 minutes left of the race the Audi was already in the lead, Lotterer helping build a significant lead over the Porsche before handing over the Audi to Fassler. Audi’s hopes almost drowned after Fassler was slammed with a stop-and-go penalty for abusing track limits, leaving the leadership vulnerable to the approaching Porsche.
After serving his penalty in the pit lane, Fassler luckily emerged in the lead again, albeit with the gap reduced to just 8 seconds. With only 15 minutes racing left, Jani pushed even harder to try to cash in on the penalised Audi but Fassler was fast enough to cross the line first. Elsewhere, in LMP2 class, Russian team G-Drive Racing claimed a 1-2 victory with the no26 G-Drive Racing Ligier of Roman Rusinov, Sam Bird and Julien Canal while sister #28 car crossed the line in second place.
The GTE class was largely dominated by Ferrari who scooped a total of four podium wins. AF Corse power duo Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander took victory in LM GTE Pro category driving the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE. The two drivers won last year’s FIA World Endurance Cup and the GT Drivers’ title. Aston Martin had locked the front row during qualifying with three cars but failed to match the speed of the Ferraris during the race.
The #91 Porsche 911 RSR Team Manthey of Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen was second in GTE Pro, leading the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE of James Calado and Davide Rigon. LM GTE Am category allowed Aston Martin to redeem themselves with the #98 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 car of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy. This was Mathias’ (son of legendary F1 driver Niki Lauda) first victory in a World Championship event at Silverstone.
AF Corse and SMP Racing Ferraris claimed the remaining two podium wins in GTE Am. Drivers will convene again at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 2.