Audi secured its second win of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday after seeing off Porsche in a race-long battle for the second round in a row.
The no. 7 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer once again found itself embroiled in a battle with the no. 18 Porsche of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas, but emerged victorious by 13.4 seconds after six hours of racing at Spa.
Porsche had locked out the top three positions on the grid in qualifying, with the no. 17 of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard retaining the lead from pole position for much of the first hour.
However, for the second race in a row, the trio hit trouble, forcing them into a lengthy pit stop that dropped them out of contention for the race win.
The no. 18 Porsche did appear to be in control of the race, but some strategic brilliance from the Audi crew allowed the no. 7 to get back into contention, resulting in a fine on-track battle between the two cars.
In the end, it was the no. 7 that won out, giving Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer a perfect start to the WEC season heading to Le Mans with the low downforce-spec Audi in six weeks’ time.
In spite of the problem on the car, the no. 17 drivers managed to fight back to finish third and give Porsche a double podium finish. The German marque’s third car, driven by Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg, fought back to finish sixth despite sustaining damage in a clash with a GT car on-track in the first hour of the race.
Audi’s third car, the no. 9 of Filipe Albuquerque, Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi, came home in fourth place ahead of Toyota’s no. 2 car. Both teams suffered problems on their remaining cars, leaving them seventh (no. 8 Audi) and eighth (no. 1 Toyota) at the end of the race.
In LMP2, Jota Sport made an impression in its first race of the 2015 WEC season by claiming a class victory. Simon Dolan, Mitch Evans and Harry Ticknell finished one lap ahead of G-Drive’s no. 28 car, having seen their biggest contenders – the no. 26 G-Drive – suffer an engine issue.
Aston Martin Racing, AF Corse and Porsche Team Manthey enjoyed another spirited fight in the GTE Pro class, with the battle between AMR’s no. 99 and AF Corse’s no. 51 go down to the final hour. However, spectators were denied a fight to the flag between the two cars when the Ferrari was handed a one minute stop-go penalty for breaking pit stop procedure.
This allowed the no. 99 of Richie Stanaway, Alex MacDowell and Fernando Rees to clinch its first win of the season, finishing 29 seconds clear of the no. 92 Porsche in second place. The German marque secured another double class podium result with the no. 91 finishing third.
Aston Martin doubled up in the GTE Am class as the no. 98 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda claimed its second win of the season, finishing almost one lap clear of AF Corse’s no. 83. SMP Racing finished third, making the podium a repeat of that at Silverstone.
The WEC paddock reconvenes in June for its highlight event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which takes place on June 13-14.