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.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.