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.
In his debut on a 450 Kawasaki, Adam Cianciarulo held off teammate Eli Tomac in a hotly contested final Main to win the Monster Energy Cup at Sam Boyd Stadium: One race; one win.
“My first thought was, ‘what I life I get to live,’ ” Cianciarulo told NBCSN after the race. “That whole race I knew (Eli) was behind me. We had a gap and I knew it was going to come down to the Joker Lane.”
For Cianciarulo, it was all about managing pressure. He earned the holeshot in the first and final Mains. In the first race, he lost his bike and the lead under the bridge. In the final Main, he withstood a fierce charge for 10 laps from one of the best riders ever in Supercross.
Tomac stalked Cianciarulo for eight laps. At one point, he made the pass, but Cianciarulo expertly executed a crossover move and retook the point in the same corner. Tomac knew he was going to have to change things up if he wanted to make a pass for the lead and the overall win.
“Going into the Joker, I couldn’t really ever make the pass stick, so I thought let me get in this thing a lap early and see if I can make the speed up on the track,” Tomac said after the race.
He had a reason to believe it would turn out in his favor because he used the tactic in the second Main and made up four spots on the track – advancing from seventh to fourth.
“Just the opportunity to race with Eli,” Cianciarulo continued from Victory Lane. “You know, he’s accomplished so much and just to be out there on the track with him. I’m just stoked to be out there with him.”
Cianciarulo would have been forgiven if he thought Las Vegas owed him something. Entering the Supercross season finale this year, he only needed a clean finish to win the 250 West championship. He crashed and handed the win over to Dylan Ferrandis, but instead of allowing that to frustrate him, Cianciarulo used it as motivation.
“(Winning this race) is a little bit of redemption, but to be honest with you I look at (the accident in) Vegas now after winning the outdoor motocross championship as something that helped me get there,” Cianciarulo said. “It’s helped me grow.”
With his overall win, Cianciarulo pocketed a $100,000 check. The payday could have been $1 million if any rider had been able to win all three Mains. Instead, three Mains featured three different riders. Tomac won the first Main, Malcolm Stewart the second, and Cianciarulo the third.
Tomac stormed to the lead in the first Main and was slicing through the field in Main 2 before he flipped his bike on a bad landing. He fell from challenging for the lead to 10th. Ten laps does not allow a lot of time to make up for a mistake, but Tomac was able to make up significant time by taking the Joker Lane one lap before Cianciarulo and Stewart.
Stewart would win the second Main, completing a comeback nine months in the making. Early in the Supercross season, he crashed hard in Phoenix and broke his femur.
“I’ve been waiting nine months for all this; I’m just having fun out there.” Stewart said at the end of Main 2. “We’ve got another race to go and hopefully we’re on the top step, but if not, we’re already making dreams come true. I’ve already marked things off my checklist. It was just to win a Main Event.”
Entering the final Main Cianciarulo, Tomac, and Stewart were in a dead heat in regard to points. Cianciarulo finished second in the first two Mains, Tomac had a 1-3 with Stewart at a 3-1. The battle would be a “winner takes all” scenario.
How they finished in the final Main determined the overall result with Stewart finishing third in the race and overall standings.
Vince Friese had the ride of his life. With a 4-5-5, he finished fourth.
Friese was also trying to erase an injury-plagued season.
“I had a good (2019) season going,” Friese said. “I don’t think I got to show everything I had. It was frustrating getting hurt just a few races in and five months off the motorcycle is not fun, so I was hungry tonight.”
The World Champion Tim Gajser scored a 7-4-4 and rounded out the top five.
Dean Wilson crashed hard in the last lap of practice. He was transported to the hospital with a leg injury.
Evan Ferry won the Supermini division on the strength of winning both Mains. Gavin Towers and Myles Gilmore rounded out the top three.
In 250 Futures, Jett Lawrence won both Mains and the overall. Jalek Swoll and Brock Papi rounded out the top three.