Porsche, Audi lead Friday practice in WEC opener at Silverstone


The first day of the 2014 World Endurance Championship season is in the books, with Porsche and Audi leading today’s two practice sessions for Sunday’s curtain-raising Six Hours of Silverstone.

Porsche’s No. 14 919 Hybrid for drivers Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and Marc Lieb set the fastest time in Practice 1 at 1:44.042, which was four-tenths quicker than the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Lucas di Grassi, Tom Kristensen, and Loic Duval.

Also not far behind in third place was the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre, and Sebastien Buemi, who were just less than two-tenths of a second behind the No. 1 Audi.

Those three manufacturers’ sister cars also claimed positions fourth through sixth, with privateers Rebellion Racing winding up seventh in the session at 1.5 seconds off the No. 14’s pace.

The No. 26 G-Drive Morgan/Nissan of Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla and Julien Canal topped the P2 category (1:51.004), while GTE-Pro was led by Porsche’s No. 91 911 RSR (Patrick Pilet, Jörg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy; 1:58.981). In GTE-Am, the No. 81 Ferrari 458 Italia of Sam Bird, Stephen Wyatt and Michele Rugolo was quickest (2:01.210).

As for the more recent Practice 2, Audi and Toyota turned the tables on Porsche with the No. 1 of di Grassi/Kristensen/Duval logging a 1:43.134 with di Grassi at the controls. The No. 2 Audi (Andre Lotterer/Marcel Fassler/Benoit Treluyer) moved up to second on the time sheets, as Lotterer turned in a 1:43.534.

Toyota’s No. 7 Hybrid for Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima, and Stephane Sarrazin was third-quickest (1:44.097 with Wurz). The WEC’s most-hyped newcomer, Mark Webber, got Porsche’s No. 20 919 up to P4 (1:45.051).

G-Drive’s No. 26 was fastest again in P2 (1:50.401 with Rusinov), while Porsche’s No. 92 911 RSR (Marco Holzer, Frédéric Makowiecki, Richard Lietz) went to the top in GTE-Pro (2:00.455). Another 911, the No. 88 of Christian Ried, Klaus Bachler, and Khaled Al-Qubaisi, led in GTE-Am (2:00.570).

A third practice session and qualifying will take place tomorrow at Silverstone to lead into Sunday’s main event at 7 a.m. ET (12 Noon local time).

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

Follow @JerryBonkowski