WEC: Porsche storms to 1-2-3 in 6 Hours of Spa qualifying


Porsche sent out a strong statement of intent in qualifying for the second round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday by securing the top three positions on the grid ahead of tomorrow’s six hour race.

The German marque displayed a good pace throughout pre-season testing at Paul Ricard in France, and put its superior, straight-line speed to good use through the Ardennes forest in qualifying.

After a wet Thursday practice, conditions were dry and cool on Friday, allowing the drivers to smash the WEC lap record at Spa-Francorchamps by four seconds.

Porsche remained in control for the entire session, and it was the No. 17 car of Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley which secured pole position. Mark Webber will join the duo for the race on Sunday.

Joining the No. 17 on the front row is Porsche’s third car entry for Spa, the No. 19, piloted by Nick Tandy and Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg. The German will start his first ever WEC race from second place on the grid ahead of the no. 18 of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

Audi was unable to answer the pace shown by Porsche on Friday, finishing seven tenths of a second adrift of pole position. The No. 7 of Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer will start fourth on Saturday ahead of the No. 8 of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis.

Toyota’s miserable weekend continued in qualifying as the No. 1 car of Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson – reduced to a two-man effort after Kazuki Nakajima’s crash in practice – finished sixth ahead of the sister No. 2 car in seventh place. Audi’s third car, the No. 9, will start eighth.

G-Drive resumed normal service in LMP2 by claiming class pole with the No. 26 of Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird. KCMG will start from second in class with the No. 47 ahead of Team SARD Morand’s no. 43 and the second G-Drive car in fourth place.

Aston Martin Racing’s strong showing in GTE Pro at Spa continued in qualifying as the No. 99 of Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowell and Richie Stanaway edged out Ferrari’s AF Corse team for pole position by just 0.070 seconds. Defending WEC champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander will start from second place on the grid ahead of the No. 97 AMR car of Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Rob Bell.

In GTE Am, there was yet more delight for AMR as Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda claimed the class pole position, beating the Larbre Competition Chevrolet by 1.1 seconds at the top of the timesheets.

For the complete results from qualifying, click here.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”