FIA WEC: No. 17 Porsche wins again at COTA

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AUSTIN, Texas – A Porsche 919 Hybrid won once again in the FIA World Endurance Championship in Saturday’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas, albeit not in the way or manner as was expected.

The No. 17 car of Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard capitalized on the demise of the sister No. 18 car of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb. The No. 18 car was well positioned for its elusive first victory of the season, but went into the garage in the final hour with an unspecified mechanical issue.

For the No. 17 car, the win for that trio is their second in a row, and came as a rebound from two pit issues during the race.

One of Webber’s stops saw the Australian overshoot his pit box, and need to get pushed back into his stall.

That paled in comparison to a one-minute stop-and-go penalty assessed in the fourth hour, reportedly for two many crewmembers working on the car, which had dropped the No. 17 car behind the No. 18 car in the first place.

The No. 18 Porsche’s demise promoted both Audi R18 e-tron quattros to second and third in class, with the No. 7 Audi of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler ahead of the sister No. 8 Audi of Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis.

LMP2 was a seesaw battle between G-Drive Racing and KCMG, and G-Drive emerged victorious with the No. 26 Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal. Rusinov, in particular, starred during his stints.

GTE-Pro saw Porsche Team Manthey dominate for the second straight race. A fifth hour change on a pit stop sequence saw the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz win again from the team car, the No. 92 driven by Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki.

AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari F458 Italia of James Calado and Davide Rigon completed the podium, ahead of three Aston Martin Vantage V8s and the sister AF Corse Ferrari, which had its left side door come loose and thus fall off course.

GTE-Am witnessed a more eventful race, with SMP Racing winning for the third time in a row with the trio of Andrea Bertolini, Victor Shaytar and Alexey Basov in the No. 72 Ferrari F458 Italia.

Bertolini and Shaytar closed down on prior class leaders AF Corse (No. 83 car) and Dempsey-Proton Racing (No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR) in the final two hours, ultimately ending ahead.

Earl Bamber drove a storming final stint to take the No. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR up to second (shared with Khalid Al Qubaisi and Christian Ried), while the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari of Rui Aguas, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo finished third.

Perrodo’s stint was critical to that car getting a podium over the Dempsey car, which was shared by Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long and Marco Seefried, and led most of the first four hours.