Porsche take third straight 1-2 at COTA; Signatech Alpine win LMP2 despite late scare
Porsche LMP Team continued its winning momentum at the 6 Hours of COTA with a third consecutive 1-2 on Saturday at the sixth round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Earl Bamber, in the No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, crossed the finish line just 0.276s ahead of stablemate Nick Tandy in the No.1 car to claim a fourth consecutive victory for he and teammates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. The trio extend their title advantage and helped Porsche to pull away further from Toyota in the Manufacturers' standings.
Held in challenging hot and humid conditions, the race was an epic strategic contest which saw the rhythm of the race swing from Porsche to Porsche.
The 2017 rule change, which brought down the allocation of six sets of tyres to four for qualifying and the race, saw the teams challenged with choosing when to double-stint their Michelin tyres in the hot temperatures.
After some frantic action throughout the six hours of the race, the destiny of the Lone star Le Mans was decided in the final laps when Porsche chose to synchronise the cars, allowing Bamber to overtake Nick Tandy on the main straight with just 15-minutes of the race remaining.
Toyota finished third and fourth in Texas and displayed much more competitive pace than in recent races. Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin claimed the final podium position in the No.8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS 050 HYBRID after challenging the Porsches in the first phase of the six hours.
Signatech Alpine Matmut takes second consecutive LMP2 win
Reigning LMP2 champions, Signatech Alpine Matmut, took a North American victory, following up their Mexico City podium. For Lapierre and Menezes it was also a second victory in Texas in as many years. Menezes, the sole American driver in the field this year, was especially delighted to claim another maximum score on home ground.
There was a late scare for Les Bleues though as they were forced to change the rear bodywork section with just 12-minutes of the race remaining.
Gustavo Menezes though had enough in hand and was able to take the chequered flag with a comfortable margin ahead of the Vaillante Rebellion pair of ORECA-Gibson entries.
The title leading No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing of Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung took fourth position.