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.

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