Audi Win Silverstone Thriller to Lift the Tourist Trophy, G-Drive Take 1-2 LMP2 Finish
Marcel Fässler, Benoit Tréluyer and Andre Lotterer became the latest names to be added to the impressive roll of honour on the base of the 110 year old Tourist Trophy after Marcel Fässler took the chequered flag in the no7 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro to win the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
A 72 second lead for Fässler over fellow Swiss driver Neel Jani in the no18 Porsche 919 was reduced to just 11 with 15 minutes left on the clock when the no7 car was given a Stop-Go penalty for abusing track limits. This set up a great battle for the final few laps, but Marcel Fässler was able to hold on to the lead and take the win by just 4.6 seconds.
In LMP2 it was all smiles in the G-Drive Racing pit after the Russian team converted a 1-2 in qualifying into a 1-2 on the podium. The no26 G-Drive Racing Ligier of Roman Rusinov, Sam Bird and Julien Canal took the win, with the sister no28 car taking second place to score a 1-2 finish for the Russian team.
The no17 Porsche of Mark Webber led the race for the first 80 minutes but a drive train issue forced the Australian into the pits and into retirement. The no18 Porsche took over the top spot but had to contend with the Audi R18s which closed up on the twisty parts of the Silverstone track. However once on the long straights the Porsche would pull away, only to be caught again on the twisty stuff, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats.
By Lap 56 Neel Jani in the Porsche and Marcel Fässler in the Audi were battling hard for position while the two Toyotas of Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway were 3rd and 4th respectively, with Davidson just 3.8 seconds behind the duo at the front of the field.
Davidson pitted on lap 79 followed by Fässler and Jani a lap later, with Davidson leading the race followed by Conway in the no2 Toyota. Andre Lotterer, now at the wheel of the no7 Audi, caught and passed Conway’s Toyota, the German then began the process of catching the lead car of the reigning world champion. It took until lap 96 until Lotterer could make the move into Village corner but once he was in front Lotterer set about building an unassailable lead. With 60-minutes of the race remaining Lotterer pitted to hand over the car to Fässler for the final part of the race.
The Swiss driver had a huge lead over the no18 Porsche of Jani but a late stop-go penalty for abusing track limits upset the plans of the Audi Sport team. It seemed that the no7 Audi, with a 72 second lead, would be able to pit and come back out still with a healthy lead. However when Fässler came in, he stopped at his pitbox to refuel the car, which meant he had to come back in for a second stop on the following lap to serve his penalty. Everyone held their breath to see if the no7 Audi would emerge still in the lead, which it did with an 8 second gap with less than 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
Jani sensed an opportunity to snatch the victory and the no18 Porsche started to close the gap but there wasn’t enough time to catch the leading Audi. The no7 Audi took the flag 4.6 seconds ahead of the no18 Porsche with Sebastien Buemi claiming the third spot on the podium just 5.6 seconds behind the Porsche.
In LMP2 Nick Tandy in the KCMG Oreca05-Nissan got a great start to take the lead in the LMP2 category but had to fend off the attentions of the two G-Drive Racing Ligiers. Sam Bird took the lead on lap 6 but Tandy was still able to mount a challenge. However KCMG’s race came to an end when a holed radiator forced the Oreca into the pits for a long stop. The car did emerge from the garage to finish the race and be classified one place behind the brand new Strakka-Dome of Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane.
The no36 Signatech Alpine of Paul Loup Chatin had a big off at Copse, hitting the tyre wall hard. The French driver was unhurt but his car was too damaged to continue and causing a full course yellow period that slowed the race for a few laps.
The two G-Drive Ligiers continued to battle amongst themselves with Roman Rusinov holding the top spot from Gustavo Yacaman as the clock hit 3 hours remaining. This is how it remained during the second half of the race and by the chequered flag the no26 Ligier was a lap ahead of the no28 Nissan powered car and Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird were able to savour the view from the top step of the podium alongside teammates Gustavo Yacaman, Ricardo Gonzalez and Pipo Derani in second.
The no30 Tequila Patron sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD-Honda of Scott Sharp, David Heinmeier-Hansson and Ryan Dalziel finished the race in third place in what should be the last race for the older open cockpit ARX03B chassis. However in post race scrutineering the no30 ESM HPD was excluded from the results after the minimum thickness of the front and rear plank was under the 20mm minimum required and was in breach of Article 3.5.6a 3 of the LMP2 Technical Regulations. This promoted the no42 Strakka Racing Strakka Dome into third place.
Marcel Fassler – Audi Sport Team Joest: “I must say this (the battle with Jani) was one of the best fights I have had in my whole career and I really enjoyed this whole race today. I have to say it was pretty fair from Neel who gave space and I think we raced well together. I must say it was a bit annoying him passing me on the straights like that! It was really a nice race to drive and I think what we showed today was great.”
Anthony Davidson – Toyota Racing: “I think we had to double stint the tyres to stay in the fight today. This forced everyone else to give it a go as well. Once the fuel had gone in the car it felt pretty much the same as it had at the end of the first stint and my second one was actually faster than the first stint.
“Hopefully when we get to some circuits where tyre-wear is a bit more critical than here at Silverstone where it is pretty kind on tyres, we can get in to a position where we can have an advantage again. But overall we have always seemed to struggle here at Silverstone.”
Neel Jani – Porsche Team: “I definitely enjoyed the race with Marcel today, especially as I know we can trust each other driving side-by-side without actually touching. Obviously I couldn’t avoid smiling on the straights each time I went by him!
“I think at the beginning we struggled a little bit with brake temperature issues but we got it back under control and it started to get better and better and I could pick up the pace. For sure it was a great sportscar race and all three manufacturers are all very close. We have to push because it is a six-our sprint race.”
Roman Rusinov – G-Drive Racing: “Sam (Bird) did the perfect job today so I have to say thank you to him and also to Julien (Canal) who was also very good. We just didn’t take any risks as we know we have a good car. But I had some problems with the Strakka because when I was lapping this car it was touching me and I lost 8-seconds which was not too bad. But the team were excellent again all weekend and we are very happy.”
The next round will be the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on the 2nd May.
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