FIA WEC: Porsche claims 1-2 at Nurburgring

Photo: Porsche
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Porsche Team dominated proceedings in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, the first post-24 Hours of Le Mans race of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid that won at Le Mans carried through to a second straight win with the trio of Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. It’s also Bernhard and Hartley’s third straight victory at the Nürburgring, having done so with Mark Webber each of the last two years.

This car moved ahead of the sister No. 1 car on the final pit stop sequence, done just within the final 15 minutes of the race. The No. 1 car of Neel Jani, Nick Tandy and Andre Lotterer led most of the race but pitted for its final stop with 15 minutes remaining on Lap 196, with the No. 2 car pitting a lap later after inheriting the lead, completing a shorter stop and staying out front to the flag.

Porsche now has its first overall 1-2 finish in the FIA WEC since, surprisingly, Shanghai in 2015. Although Porsche won a number of races in 2016, all of them saw either Audi or Toyota come second.

Toyota was down to a single bullet today almost from the off, with the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima having had a fuel pump issue at the start of the race, and having lost five laps.

While the car made it back to fourth overall it was never in with a shout of a result from there, finishing behind the pair of Porsches and the No. 7 Toyota, in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and the returning Jose Maria Lopez.

Jackie Chan DC Racing’s dream season in LMP2 continued with its third win in four races for the trio of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent in the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson. It was a dominant win in the nearly all-spec class over the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca and No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 cars, the latter car having got ahead of the second Rebellion in the final hour.

In GTE-Pro, AF Corse’s No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE broke through for its first win of the year, with the new pairing of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado winning their first race as teammates. The No. 71 car of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon won at Spa. This Ferrari victory made it the first manufacturer to get to two wins in the category after Ford (Silverstone), Ferrari (Spa) and Aston Martin (Le Mans) won the first three races.

Porsche’s new mid-engined 911 RSR looked promising after its first WEC pole set on Saturday, but was unable to break through for its first win yet on a global platform. Nonetheless the pair of cars, the No. 91 of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki and No. 92 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, completed the podium for Porsche’s first double podium of the year.

Porsche’s older and previous generation 911 RSR did break through in GTE-Am with the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing, the Proton team’s first win in WEC since the Bahrain season finale last year. Christian Ried shared the car with young guns Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli, the latter two winning their first races in FIA WEC. The No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari was second with the No. 98 Aston Martin third to make it three manufacturers in as many positions.

The FIA WEC has another month-plus break before its next race at Mexico City the first weekend in September.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”