Audi and Ferrari swept to wins in the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, in a race that serves as a tune-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Audi’s three R18 e-tron quattro hybrids took a 1-2-3 finish overall, led by the twice-defending Le Mans winning trio of Andre Lotterer (pictured at 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours), Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. Toyota premiered its new 2013-spec TS030 Hybrid, but the hybrid system failed on the No. 7 car. Meanwhile the debut of the 2013-spec car was explained further in an article by SPEED’s John Dagys.
In GTE Pro, where several ex-Formula One pilots have landed, Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi again finished in the same order as they did in Silverstone. But while that was a win for Senna in his WEC debut, this time it was second and third behind Kobayashi’s teammate in the sister AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia, driven by Italian ex-F1 drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Senna switched to the No. 98 Aston Martin after winning in Silverstone in the No. 97 – the team added a fifth Vantage split between the GTE Pro and Am classes – and co-drove with Frederic Makowiecki and Rob Bell. Kobayashi resumed with co-driver Toni Vilander in AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari.
Pecom Racing (LMP2) and 8Star Motorsports (GTE Am) also took class victories. Mike Conway, who raced a Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar in Long Beach, finished fifth in the LMP2 class.
The 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans occurs June 22-23.
SAKHIR, Bahrain – Toyota denied Porsche a swansong victory in its final LMP1 appearance in the FIA World Endurance Championship by taking a commanding win in the 6 Hours of Bahrain on Saturday.
Porsche started from pole in the last competitive outing for the three-time Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid car, only to lose out to Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi within the first half an hour of the race.
Porsche lost one of its cars from contention for victory after an errant bollard got stuck underneath Timo Bernhard’s No. 2 entry, leaving Nick Tandy to lead its charge in the No. 1 car.
Tandy moved into the lead just past half distance after a bold strategy call from Porsche to triple-stint the Briton after a fuel-only stop, vaulting him ahead of Anthony Davidson in the No. 8 Toyota.
Tandy’s win hopes were soon dashed when he tangled with a GTE-Am backmarker at Turn 1, sustaining damage that forced Porsche into an unplanned pit stop that put the car a lap down.
With the No. 7 Toyota losing two laps following a clash with a GTE-Pro car earlier on, Davidson, Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima went unchallenged en route to the car’s fifth victory of the season.
Porsche rounded out the podium with its cars, with the No. 2 leading home the No. 1, leaving Toyota’s No. 7 car to settle for P4 at the checkered flag.
Vaillante Rebellion clinched the title in LMP2 after a stunning fightback led by Bruno Senna, with the Brazilian securing his maiden motorsport championship win in the process.
GTE-Pro saw AF Corse complete a hat-trick of titles in 2017, with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi wining the class’ first world championship recognized by the FIA, while Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda sewed up the GTE-Am title.