2015 WEC - Porsche wins in LM P1 and LM GTE Pro, while Ferrari takes LM GTE Am spoils with SMP Racing
After monopolising the top two places overall in Friday’s qualifying, Porsche went on to dominate the 2015 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas in both the LM P1 and LM GTE Pro classes. Ferrari took the LM GTE Am victory following a strong performance by SMP Racing.
The race started at 5pm local time in clear weather. The pole-winning N°18 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Dumas/Jani/Lieb) and its N°17 sister car (Bernhard/Webber/Hartley) traded positions through Turn 1, chased by the N°7 (Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer) and N°8 (Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis) Audi R18 e-tron quattros.
There were no further incidents until Lap 115 when the race-leading N°17 prototype, with Timo Bernhard at the wheel, was handed a one-minute Stop&Go penalty for an infraction during the car’s third stop.
The N°18 Porsche consequently inherited first place, while Bernhard re-joined just 25 seconds clear of the N°7 Audi, forcing the German driver to push hard since his stint was coming to an end and he needed to pit very soon.
On Lap 118, he provided an illustration of his speed and the potential of his Michelin tires – which had already completed 28 laps – by posting a time of 1m47.436s!
That would remain the benchmark lap until the last quarter-of-an-hour when team-mate Brendon Hartley improved by 24-thousandths at a moment when lower air and track temperatures favoured faster performance.
With six hours and 185 laps (1,020km) completed, the N°17 Porsche 919 Hybrid took the flag in first place to follow up its recent success at the Nürburgring. Second and third places went to the N°7 and N°8 Audi R18 e-tron quattros respectively.
“Congratulations to Porsche Team on its fine win, and also to Audi Sport on getting both its cars onto the podium,” said Pascal Couasnon, the director of Michelin Motorsport. “Austin is a very demanding track, but our tires proved highly competitive and very consistent once again.”
LM GTE Pro dominated by the Porsche 911 RSRs
The members of several Porsche owner clubs were at the Circuit of the Americas to cheer on their brand during the double-bill meeting’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship and FIA WEC clashes.
Their support was notably rewarded in the FIA WEC race which saw the N°91 (Lietz/Christensen) and N°92 (Pilet/Makowiecki) 911 RSRs dominate in LM GTE Pro after shrugging off challenges from the N°51 (Bruni/Vilander) and N°71 (Rigon/Calado) Ferrari 458 Italias.
“Although our existing tires for LM GTE were competitive, we worked over the winter break to develop solutions that were even more closely suited to our partners’ cars,” added Pascal Couasnon. “We were keen to see how our ‘high temperature’ tires would work at the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas and the performance not only of the Porsches but also of our other partners shows that we achieved our goals.”
A great fight in LM GTE Am
Much of the LM GTE race was marked by some close fighting between the N°77 Porsche 911 RSR (Dempsey-Proton Racing, Dempsey/Long/Seefried) and the SMP Racing (Shaytar/Bertolini/Basov) and AF Corse (Perrodo/Collard/Aguas) Ferrari 458 Italias, with spectators treated to some spectacular overtaking.
This trio was later joined by the N°88 Porsche 911 RSR (Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing, Ried/Al Qubaisi/Bamber) which fought back to second at the flag behind the N°72 Ferrari. AF Corse’s car was third, and the N°77 Porsche eventually had to settle for fourth.