Audi turns back Toyota challenge for WEC victory in Austin

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The reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans champions hit the top step of the podium today in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s six-hour battle at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Loic Duval, Allen McNish and Tom Kristensen in the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (pictured, from their victory this year at Le Mans) earned overall and LMP1 wins by a margin of 23.6 seconds over the No. 8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin, and Sebastian Buemi, which provided the Audi camp with a stiff push during the proceedings.

“The car was faultless and it ran really well,” McNish said afterwards during the WEC’s worldwide streaming broadcast. “The guys set it up extremely well considering we had such a lack of practice time, and I’m very, very pleased.”

In the LMP2 category, IZOD IndyCar Series part-timer Mike Conway helped the No. 26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 03 Nissan net top honors for the second consecutive WEC race alongside co-drivers Roman Rusinov and John Martin.

“Hopefully we can keep this going on for the next few rounds,” Martin said. “It’s amazing. The team’s done an absolutely awesome job all weekend. We’ve been the fastest in every session – just amazing.”

GTE-Pro top honors went to the No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Fred Makowiecki and Bruno Senna, nephew of Formula One great Ayrton Senna. Aston Martin also reigned supreme in GTE-AM, securing a 1-2 finish in class with the No. 96 combo of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall taking the checkers by 1.5 seconds over the No. 95 trio of Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard.

According to the Circuit of the Americas, the combined WEC-American Le Mans Series weekend drew a three-day crowd of 33,591 despite heavy rains marring the first day of the weekend on Friday. For comparison’s sake, COTA drew 26,648 fans for its two-day GRAND-AM weekend this past spring.

The WEC now moves on to Japan, where they’ll stage another six-hour run at Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway on October 20.

Verstappen picks illegal Raikkonen pass as favorite F1 2017 overtake

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Max Verstappen has picked his illegal pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as his favorite overtake of the Formula 1 season.

Verstappen was one of F1’s most prolific passers through 2017, making 22 overtaking moves as per Pirelli’s end of year data.

When asked to pick out his favorite in a post-season interview on his official website, Verstappen picked his bold move on Raikkonen at the Circuit of The Americas that sparked controversy when he was penalized for completing the overtake off-track.

The Red Bull driver had charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, only for a five-second time penalty to deny him a podium and drop him to fourth in a snap call made before the post-race ceremony.

“Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: ‘Why? It was a great move.’ But when you look at the rules, it was not correct,” Verstappen said.

“Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.

“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result.

“It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end I made my peace with it.”

Asked if it was his best move of the year, Verstappen said: “Yes, because this year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes.

“With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights, which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”