Punctures, flying cars and notably fast Porsches is what Audi had to go through before winning the FIA WEC season opener at the 6 Hours of Silverstone today. After enduring Porsche domination throughout the 2015 season, the Neuburg-based team managed to convert yesterday’s pole victory into a successful first win of the season.
Update: Audi stripped off win after post-race inspection.
Audi’s victory lasted only a few hours after a post-race inspection revealed a violated section of the rules. The #7 Audi R18 e-tron was not in compliance with article 3.5.6 a3 of the LMP1 Technical Regulations that depicts the thickness of the front skid block. As a result, the car was excluded from the race. The #2 Porsche 919 thus assumed P1, taking the first win of the season as well as maximum points. The #6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid moved up to second while Rebellion Racing ended up on the podium by claiming third overall.
Like Kvyat would say, “That’s racing”…
The race was filled with incidents including some that prompted safety car periods, notably, two prototypes retired on different occasions leaving an evenly distributed fight between Audi, Porsche and Toyota. First to go was the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley after making contact with the #86 Porsche of Michael Wainwright. As a result, the 919 Hybrid slid into the gravel trap on its side, effectively ending its race prematurely. The #8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Lucas di Grassi followed suit after suffering a hybrid malfunction forcing it out of the race.
Still, the race went on to thrill across all corners of the field from GTs to prototypes. The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb claimed second place leading the #6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stephane Sarrazin.
The #2 Porsche had its fair share of incidents to narrate too, first was a technical issue that slowed them down followed by contact with the #67 Ford GTE; they suffered a late puncture too and a last minute stop for fuel with only 10 minutes left in the race.
[Photos by Rajan Jangda and Adrenal Media]
The race unfolded quickly from the start, where Webber had managed to pass both Audis after the first 30 minutes. There was a full course yellow after the #1 Porsche crashed and the #8 Audi came to a halt – a safety car period followed when the #5 Toyota suffered a puncture that filled the track with debris. The #7 Audi and #2 Porsche were in for a hot run before the Porsche made contact with the Ford GT, allowing the Audi to slip away further into the lead.
Elsewhere, Rebellion Racing claimed both P4 and P5 with two of their Rebellion R-One cars – a 1-2 victory in LMP1 Privateer class. The #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier-Nissan of Filipe Albuquerque, Ricardo Gonzalez and Bruno Senna claimed the overall win in the LMP2 class, a season debut win for the Mexican entered car.
It was a fun season premiere for Ferrari with AF Corse who dominated the GTE-Pro class with a 1-2 finish. This was the first WEC win for the new Ferrari 488 GTE, the #71 car of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon crossed the finish line first leading the #51 car of James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni. Calado and Bruni started from the back row after facing problems during qualifying, they also got slammed with a stop-and-go penalty incurred after an engine change but a strategized drive from the duo gave them a much needed P2 finish.
The #95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage rounded off the podium finishes in the GTE-Pro class, leading two new Ford GTs, the #67 and #66. AF Corse cemented a good weekend with an extra win the GTE-Am class, after the #83 Ferrari 458 Italia of Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo and Rui Aguas claimed P1 in this class.
[Photos by Marcel Langer]
The 6 Hours of Spa will be the next stop for the WEC cars on May 7.