Aston Martin take both LMGTE wins at Spa
Aston Martin Racing emerged victorious in both the LMGTE Pro and Am class at Spa today.
In LMGTE Pro, a race-long fight raged between the leading contenders, who were rarely more than twenty seconds apart throughout the whole six-hour race.
The #99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowell and Richie Stanaway took their first WEC win and headed home the #92 Porsche Team Manthey entered Porsche 911 RSR driven by Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki.
Rees took the chequered flag 24.491s ahead of the Porsche but the final stint had been a stressful affair for the Brazilian, as he soaked up significant pressure from reigning GT champion Gianmaria Bruni in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.
That pressure subsided when the Ferrari was given a one-minute stop and go penalty for a pit stop infraction. A dropped tyre at the final stop ultimately cost the AF Corse team a second consecutive win this season and the Italian a third consecutive victory at Spa. The penalty dropped Bruni and Vilander back to fourth position in class.
Rees drove perhaps the race of his career so far with some excellent early race stints to ensure the platform was built for today’s victory. Richie Stanaway then increased the lead before Alex MacDowell completed a single stint, handing back over to Rees for the final hour.
“We played our strategy by ear,” said Richie Stanaway. “We had done some analysis of our race at Silverstone and had understood where we had lost time. Our pit stops were perfect. Ferrari did a mistake, that is also what we needed to win this race”
A second place for Porsche Team Manthey had looked unlikely going in to the final hour when Richard Lietz was given a penalty for abusing track limits. He and Frederic Makowiecki fought back tenaciously to secure runners-up points finishing ahead of their team mates Kevin Estre and Sven Muller in the sister #91 Porsche 911 RSR.
The #98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda claimed a second consecutive victory in what marked a perfect start to the season for the trio. They have now taken maximum points at each of the first two rounds and today marked a remarkable fifth win from the last seven WEC events.
It was not an entirely straightforward race for the #98 car as its pace dropped off as the track rubbered in, particularly in the later stages. Pedro Lamy began the race on an old set of Michelins but still opened up a small gap to the opposition. Paul Dalla Lana and then Mathias Lauda drove impressive stints, despite a spin at the final chicane for the Canadian.
“It was a strange race in some respects as everyone seemed to be on different strategies,” said Dalla Lana, who finished the race. “It is nice to start the season off with two maximum scores and these guys next to me (Lamy and Lauda) have been fantastic. It is always a thrill to win with Aston Martin and I am a very happy man this evening.”
The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 led most of the race and was able to see off the challenge of the second placed #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francois Perrodo in the final hour. The Ferrari 458 Italia had a relatively trouble-free run to the flag to claim another second place to add to their Silverstone runners-up position.
In the second hour of the event Larbre Competition took a turn at the front after Kristian Poulsen fought his way into the lead in the #50 Chevrolet Corvette C7. This was short lived as he had contact with one of the G-Drive Ligier-Nissan LMP2 cars and the resulting impact with the tyre barrier at the Paul Frere corner led to the French squad's retirement from the race.
Third place went to the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Aleksey Basov, Andrea Bertolini and Victor Shayter. The Russian-entered car enjoyed a competitive race throughout the six hours and led with Shayter at the wheel during the second hour.
Once again close and thrilling action was the hallmark of the LMGTE classes at Spa today. These exciting battles are set to rage all season long as some of the world’s most famous racing GT brands fight it out for the 2015 WEC crowns.
Full results can be found HERE
FINAL 90 MINUTES LIVE TEXT
20:42:11 31 cars classified at the finish only 3 retirements
20:40:52 Fastest lap by Hartley in Porsche #17 with 1:57.972
20:39:08 In GTE Am Aston #98 wins from Ferrari #83 and Ferrari #72
20:37:23 In GTE Pro Aston #99 wins from #92 Porsche and #91 Porsche
20:36:03 In LMP2 #38 Jota Gibson wins from #28 G-Drive Ligier and #43 SARD Morgan
20:34:09 Audi #7 wins from Porsche #18 by 13.424 secs and Porsche #17 in 3rd - 176 laps completed a distance record
20:32:11 Chequered Flag
20:30:49 Final Lap
20:29:16 Audi #8 into barriers at Stavelot Jarvis driving
20:28:19 Ferrari #51 will drop to 4th in GTE Pro
20:26:49 Ferrari #51 takes its penalty and drops to 3rd in GTE Pro
20:25:48 Audi #7 leads by 12 seconds with 5 minutes to go from Porsche #18
20:20:59 Penalty was for pit crew throwing tyres around at pitstop for Ferrari #51
20:19:38 One minute stop and go for Ferrari #51
20:19:02 Albuquerque in Audi #9 takes 4th from Toyota #2
20:16:32 Ferrari #51 now only 1.2 secs behind Aston #99 in GTE Pro
20:12:08 Audi #7 leads still by 13 seconds from Porsche #18
20:09:40 Treluyer in Audi #7 in pits fuel only20:06:44SARD Morand Morgan #43 up to 3rd in P2
20:05:54 Porsche #17 pitstop Bernhard stays in20:03:13Jani in #18 now lapping 2 to 3 seconds slower than Audi #7
19:59:44 Lietz in #92 Porsche takes 3rd in GTE Pro
19:56:15 KCMG Oreca #47 up to 3d place in P2
19:55:25 Aston #97 up to 3rd in GTE Pro
19:53:49 Jani in #18 pits fuel only stays in car
19:52:31 Pitstop for Porsche #19 in 6th place Tandy stays in
19:49:59 Jani in #18 takes the lead from #7 on lap 155
19:47:39 KCMG Oreca #47 up to 4th in P2 having overtaken #36 Alpine
19:41:40 Rees in #99 retakes lead in GTE Pro
19:38:50 Ligier #26 had a blown engine
19:37:44 In GTE Am #98 Aston leads by 2 laps from #83 Ferrari and #72 Ferrari
19:36:07 In GTE Pro #51 Ferrari leads by 8 seconds from #99 Aston and #92 Porsche
19:34:51 In P2 #38 Gibson leads by a lap from #28 Ligier and #43 Morgan
19:33:36 With one hour to go in LMP1 #7 Audi leads by 10 seconds from #18 Porsche and #17 Porsche
19:31:21 Bruni in #51 Ferrari takes lead in GTE Pro from MacDowall in Aston #99
19:26:15 Wurz into #2 Toyota19:25:44Toyota #2 into pits from 4th place
19:24:03 Audi #7 now leads by 16 seconds after it's stop
19:21:49 Fuel only for Audi #7
19:20:34 Treluyer into pits in leading Audi #7 stays in car
19:19:10 Ferrari #51 now only 5 seconds behind #99 Aston in GTE Pro
19:17:54 Porsche #17 Bernhard now driving
19:16:37 SARD Morand Morgan #43 up to 3rd in P2
19:13:06 Audi #9 in pits Albuquerque stays in
19:11:51 Ligier #26 into garage team mate #28 now up to 2nd in P2
19:10:09 Ligier #26 going slowly 2nd in P2
19:05:59 New tyres for Porsche #1819:05:04Dolan stops from lead of P2 in #38
19:04:25 Lieb into pits in #18 Jani gets in
19:00:19 Audi #7 takes the lead on lap 131