WEC: Porsche secures one-two in qualifying for 6 Hours of Silverstone

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Porsche has delivered on the promise that it showed during pre-season testing by securing a one-two finish in qualifying for the opening round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone on Saturday.

After putting both Audi and Toyota in the shade at Paul Ricard last month, the German marque produced another dominant display during qualifying for the 6 Hours of Silverstone as the no. 17 car of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley secured pole position for the first race of the year.

A two lap average of 1:39.721 was six-tenths better than that of the sister Porsche, the no. 18 of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, as the team’s second year in LMP1 began in style.

Audi and Toyota were unable to put up a serious challenge for pole position, but did come close to splitting the Porsches. Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis will start from third place on the grid after finishing with an average that was just 0.012 seconds down on the no. 18’s, whilst defending WEC champions Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi had to settle for P4 alongside Kazuki Nakajima in the no. 1.

Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer will start tomorrow’s race from P5 on the grid after they finished 1.4 seconds down on Porsche’s best time, with the second Toyota of Alexander Wurz, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin ending P6 on Saturday.

In LMP2, G-Drive carried its practice form into qualifying by also going P1 and P2 as its cars were separated by just 0.062 seconds on the final timesheets. Class pole went to the no. 28 of Gustavo Yacaman, Luis Felipe Derani and Ricardo Gonzalez, whilst KCMG proved to be the Russian outfit’s most serious challenger in third place, some 1.3 seconds behind.

Not wishing to be outdone by Porsche or G-Drive, Aston Martin Racing went one better in GTE Pro by taking the top three positions in class. Pole position went to the all-Danish no. 95 of Christoffer Nygaard, Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim as the no. 99 and no. 97 were forced to settle for P2 and P3 respectively.

Porsche Team Manthey qualified as the ‘best of the rest’ in fourth place with the no. 91 of Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen finishing ahead of AF Corse’s no. 51 Ferrari in fifth, the sister no. 92 Porsche 911 RSR in P6 and the final AF Corse car of James Calado and Davide Rigon at the back of the class.

To make the day all the sweeter for Aston Martin Racing, the no. 98 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda secured GTE Am pole position ahead of the no. 50 Larbre Corvette and the no. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing car, which finished in second and third place respectively.

For the complete classification from qualifying, click here.

The 6 Hours of Silverstone kicks off at midday local time on Sunday (7a ET), with live timing available at www.fiawec.com.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.