Audi on top once again in second Nürburgring WEC practice

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NÜRBURGRING – Audi set the pace in the second free practice session ahead of this weekend’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring as its duel with Porsche at the top of the timesheets continued.

Following a two-month break, the FIA World Endurance Championship returns this weekend at the Nürburgring for the fourth round of the 2015 season.

As we saw at Le Mans in June, Audi and Porsche are set to battle for top honors at their home circuit, and with just 0.079 seconds separating the top three cars in FP2, a thrilling battle appears to be on the cards.

Audi’s no. 7 car of Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer bounced back from an early excursion into the gravel to top FP2 with a fastest lap of 1:37.862 seconds.

Treluyer’s late lap was enough to displace the no. 17 Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley from the top of the timesheets, which finished just 0.059 seconds behind in second place.

Porsche’s pace was underpinned by the no. 18 car of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani, which finished a further 0.02 seconds down in P3. The Audi no. 8 car rounded out the top four, albeit a second back from its rivals.

Toyota endured another difficult session as its cars finished fifth and sixth overall, over 1.7 seconds down on the Audi in fourth place.

In LMP2, G-Drive led the way once again with a one-two finish in a reverse order to Friday’s FP1 session. The no. 26 of Julien Canal, Roman Rusinov and Sam Bird finished 1.7 seconds clear of the no. 28 car. Strakka Racing’s no. 42 rounded out the top three a further 0.044 seconds behind.

Aston Martin Racing hit back in GTE Pro to lock out three of the top four positions in class. The no. 99 of Fernando Rees, Richie Stanaway and Alex MacDowall finished just 0.038 seconds clear of AF Corse’s no. 51 car. The no. 97 and no. 95 followed within seven-tenths of the leading GT car.

SMP Racing bounced back from a difficult morning to top the GTE Am class standings, posting a fastest lap of 1:56.238 to finish half a second clear of AMR’s no. 98. Larbre Competition’s Corvette rounded out the top three a further three-tenths of a second back.

The drivers will get one final chance to practice at the Nürburgring on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying in the afternoon. The six-hour race kicks off at 1pm local time (CET) on Sunday.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III