At the end of an action packed race here at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, reigning WEC champions Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley took victory in today’s 6 Hours of COTA, securing a third consecutive WEC win after a gruelling race held in challenging hot conditions.
The race provided an exciting strategic battle between all of the LMP1 manufacturers – Audi, Porsche and Toyota, and all three were represented on the podium as the #8 Audi of Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval came second some 23.641s seconds behind the Porsche and the #.6 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS 050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi closed out the podium in third.
Although Audi’s R18 TDI was clearly the fastest car over the weekend, the team made some pit stop mistakes, suffered an electrical issue with the #8 car and suffered bad luck with the #7 and thus failed to convert their speed into an overall win, ending the weekend reflecting on what could have been. “The weekend has ended in disappointment.” said Stefan Dreyer, Head of LMP “Our car was very fast. We dominated for a long time, but in the end were not in contention for victory.
“There were too many issues such as the short-term electrical failure with car number 8 or the racing accident in which number 7 was involved without being at fault. You cannot win a race this way.”
Despite the heat the #13 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER of Dominik Kraihamer and Alexandre Imperatori took a conclusive win in the LMP1 Privateer class moving it past the, now withdrawn, #12 sister car at the top of the championship standings. Commenting after the race Dominik Kraihamer said “I knew that it would get hot, but not that hot! I wasn’t prepared 100 per cent for that kind of heat.
“It was maybe one of the toughest days I’ve had on the race track until now. The mechanics, everybody did a fantastic job with 36 degrees weather. It was super tough in those suits with the fireproof underwear.”
In LMP2 The Signatech Alpine squad took a fourth win of the 2016 season as Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi extended their large point’s lead. The #43 LIGIER JS P2 of RGR Sport by Morand took second place while G-Drive Racing’s Oreca 05 Nissan rounded out the podium in third position.
Despite being handed a BoP adjustment, Aston Martin Racing was the benchmark in the ultra-competetive GTE class all weekend and converted two pole positions into an exceptional double win with the #95 car of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim taking the Pro class win and the #98 car of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda swept to a dominant Am win.
“It is fantastic. I had to get my aggression out because of the mistake I made in Mexico.” said Nicki Thiim. “We did a really good job. The whole team has been amazing all week. We had people collapsing – everyone was on the limit.
“We managed to have the perfect race. You can see the progress that we have made the whole season. In Silverstone we were nowhere and now we are competing at the same level as everyone.
“It is quite impressive. We keep doing a good job and its about time we got the win so I am really happy.”
“It is Nicki’s first win in LM GTE Pro.” added Marco Sorensen. “I’m happy for everyone involved in this. I’m quite sure I can promise that this is not going to be the last one …. hopefully.
“We’re definitely going to keep on pushing. We’re definitely running for the championship. There is only one way.”
AF Corse took the next two spots on the Pro podium with the #51 car of Bruni and Caldo taking second and Sam Bird and Davide Rigon bringing their #71 Ferrari 488 home a lap adrift to seal third.
In GTE Am second place went to KCMG with the #78 Porsche 911 RSR and Larbre Competition’s Corvette C7-Z06 rounded out the top three.