WEC: Audi on top in Friday practice sessions at Silverstone

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Audi made an impressive start to the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season by topping the first two free practice sessions at Silverstone on Friday.

The German marque is bidding to reclaim the WEC crown in 2015 after losing to the Toyota of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi last year, who will carry the no. 1 for the coming season.

After seeing Porsche set the pace at the pre-season prologue at Paul Ricard last month, Audi managed to respond by scoring a one-two in FP2 after going first and third in FP1 at Silverstone on Friday.

The Audi cars – carrying no. 7 and no. 8 in 2015 – shared P1, with Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer posting the fastest time of the day in the second session. Their lap of 1:41.526 was half a second clear of Porsche’s no. 17 in third place, whilst Toyota had to settle for P5 and P6 as Davidson and Buemi finished two seconds off the pace.

In LMP2, the G-Drive Racing cars dominated proceedings by going P1 and P2 in both sessions. The no. 28 of Gustavo Yacaman, Luis Felipe Derani and Ricardo Gonzalez had the upper hand in the intra-team battle on Friday, but is likely to face a stiff challenge from the sister no. 26 in qualifying tomorrow.

First blood in GTE Pro went to Aston Martin Racing as the no. 95 posted the fastest time of the day in FP1. However, Porsche hit back in FP2 as Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen led home Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki in the sister 911 RSR. With just 1.2 seconds separating all seven cars in the class in FP2, the fight for supremacy appears to be wide open at Silverstone.

The same can be said for GTE Am, where the Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche of Christian Ried, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Klaus Bachler posted the fastest time of the day, finishing just eight-hundredths of a second clear of the no. 98 Aston Martin Racing that set the pace in the second session on Friday.

To see the complete results, click here. FP3 takes place at 9am local time at Silverstone on Saturday before qualifying at midday.

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.