In a double header with TUSCC at COTA, the WEC Porsches converged on Texas for a little bit of domination. Everything is bigger in Texas, so Porsche brought their A-game in the LMP1 category, as well as the GTE Pro and GTE Am classes. With Porsche on pole in three of the four WEC classes, it was easy to tell that Saturday was going to be a big day for the team from Weissach. So how did they do at the end of the 6 hour race? Stick around to find out.
Porsche In The LMP1 Category -
Grabbing the green flag at Texas' now-famous Formula 1 circuit, Neel Jani only had the lead through the first corner when Mark Webber's #17 car took over the point with an excellent start. Inter-team rivalry is alive and well, then. From there, things settled into a rhythm for over 100 laps, just pounding it out and putting up the numbers, Porsche running lock-step 1-2. The 17 car of Bernhard, Webber, and Hartley had some trouble in the pits, including Webber overshooting the box when he stopped during the 3rd hour, and Hartley served a pit-infringement stop-and-hold penalty during the 4th hour of the race.
After that pit-related kerfuffle, the #18 resumed the lead of the motor race and held it for another hour or so. Unfortunately, with 35 minutes remaining in the race, the 18 wheeled into the garage to fix some electrical-circuit related woes. Luckily for Porsche, the 17 car, now with Bernhard aboard, was sitting in a comfortable 2nd position and took back the lead with the 18's retirement. By the end of the race, the 17 car had extended its lead over the Audi R18 of Fassler, Lotterer, and Treluyer out to just over one minute.
Obviously Porsche isn't excited about having one of their high-precision LMP1 Hybrids fail to finish the race, especially when they had such a strong lead, the burn is somewhat salved by the fact that Porsche still won the race overall and gained some good points on Audi in both the manufacturer's and driver's championship. Getting pole, the fastest lap, and the victory is always a good result, so there's not much for them to be sad about (especially considering the GT class results).
Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member Research and Development
It was an almost perfect race. Certainly we have lost out on a chance of a one-two today, but we are still happy to have won this race.
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
Three race wins in a row is a sensational tally for our young squad. We have mastered the challenges the high temperatures placed on the cars, drivers and the team. The Michelin tyres did an outstanding job at these temperatures here. A big thank you to everybody. The technical problem was a shame for our number 18 guys, but still we managed to extend our lead in the manufacturers’ standings. Compared to last year, we clearly made a step forward with our car and were dominating the race here in Austin. This makes us very positive for the races to come.
Mark Webber, Driver, 919 Hybrid #17
I had a super start, got the braking point for turn one perfectly right and passed Neel. Everything went really well except for my second pit stop. In this very wide pit lane I overshot our garage. When it comes to double stints – Timo is the man. Hats off.
Neel Jani, Driver, 919 Hybrid #18
Mark’s attack after the start was okay. That’s racing and it worked out because I allowed it to. In the beginning I had a different tyre compound to him. They were good when I had a clear lap, but difficult in traffic. Driving in the dark wasn’t easy. Because of the traffic with the cars you are lapping, you can easily suddenly have a lap time five seconds slower.
LMP1 Class Race Result
1. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (DE/NZ/AU), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 185 laps
2. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/DE/FR), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 1:06.840 min
3. Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (BR/FR/GB), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 1 lap
4. Davidson/Buemi/Nakajima (GB/CH/JP), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 2 laps
12. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (FR/CH/DE), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 17 laps
Porsche In The GTE Pro Category -
Porsche had a great start to the second half of the WEC season in the GTE Pro category, managing to lock out a 1-2 victory in the class with both 911 RSRs topping the charts. Having just come from a 1-2 victory at the Nurburgring round of the championship, Porsche is on a roll. It was as hot as an oven in the Texas afternoon, but Porsche always performs best under pressure, right? Richard Lietz took the green flag from pole position, but it wasn't 3 laps before Fred Mako took ever the lead of the class in the sister #92 car. The pair of black and white RSRs knifed through traffic together and had absolutely zero drama to report, and ran flag-to-flag in the lead. It's hard to argue with success like that. It was the perfect race weekend for the team.
Matthias Müller, President and Chief Executive Officer at Porsche AG
A stunning success. Basically, this was almost like a Weissach championship. For the entire six hours, the two 911 RSR virtually ran nose to tail and easily kept the competition at bay. It doesn’t get any better.
Richard Lietz, Driver, 911 RSR #91
An exciting race, and a bigger advantage in the championship – there’s only one word for this: perfect. Right from the start, our 911 RSR was consistently fast even in the high temperatures. We made good use of the advantages that we’d worked for in practice and qualifying and could pull clear of our rivals. Even during the night, while we were running on softer rubber, the tyres worked excellently. All in all, today was a strong team effort.
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, 911 RSR #92
Our double victory at the Nürburgring was fantastic, but to repeat such a success is a great feeling. I’m truly proud to be able to drive for Porsche. Early on in the season we experienced a few glitches, but we worked hard to sort out the problems. Now we’re back in action and ready to fight for the title for Porsche.
GTE-Pro Class Race Results
1. Lietz/Christensen (A/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 162 laps
2. Pilet/Makowiecki (F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 162
3. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 162
4. MacDowall/Stanaway/Rees (GB/NZ/BRA), Aston Martin, 161
5. Sörensen/Nygaard (DK/DK), Aston Martin, 160
6. Turner/Adam (GB/GB), Aston Martin, 160
7. Bruni/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari F458 Italia, 160
Porsche In The GTE Am Category -
The GTE Am Porsches of Dempsey Racing and Proton Competition had an excellent weekend as well. In qualifying, the #77 car of Dempsey, Pat Long, and Marco Seefried managed to eke out an exceptional pole position. Earl Bamber's addition to the #88 car, shared with Khaled Al Qubaisi and Christian Reid, has been an absolutely great fit, and he stepped in to help the team to a podium position, despite losing time to a flat tire and a subsequent unscheduled pitstop. At the end of the 6-hour, The 77 managed an impressive 4th, ultimately losing out on pace to the quick Ferrari competition, and the 88 came in second, just a little behind the winning 458 Italia of Bertolini, Shaytar, and Basov (an impressive trio to say the least). They can rest well knowing they fought hard and got their best result.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport
Congratulations to our customer team Abu Dhabi Proton Racing on their second place in the GTE-Am class. It was a gripping fight. Earl Bamber drove two brilliant stints, and Christian Ried and Khaled Al Qubaisi as well as the entire team have done a fantastic job. We can only congratulate them for this.
Earl Bamber, Driver, 911 RSR #88
We started from way down the field and had to make up a lot of places. But our 911 RSR ran fantastically over the entire race weekend. It wasn’t easy for me, because I’d already contested a race in the searing heat. Plus a puncture forced us into the pits for an unscheduled stop. But ultimately it was still a great result for the team. We had to wait a long time for this.
GTE-Am Class Race Results
1. Bertolini/Shaytar/Basov (I/RUS/RUS), Ferrari F458 Italia, 159 laps
2. Ried/Bamber/Al Qubaisi (D/NZ/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, 159
3. Perrodo/Collard/Aguas (F/F/P), Ferrari F458 Italia, 158
4. Dempsey/Long/Seefried (USA/USA/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 158
5. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CDN/P/A), Aston Martin, 158
6. Castellacci/Goethe/Hall (I/D/GB), Aston Martin, 158
7. Roda/Ruberti/Poulsen (I/I/DK), Chevrolet Corvette, 171