Porsche Takes Third Consecutive WEC Win At COTA

The winning #1 Porsche
The winning #1 Porsche driven by Webber, Bernhard and Hartley

Reigning champions Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley took victory in today's 6 Hours of COTA, the Lone Star Le Mans event at Austin, Texas. The trio secured a third consecutive WEC win after a grueling race held in challenging hot conditions.

It was an exciting strategic battle between al of the LMP1 manufacturers – Audi, Porsche and Toyota, and all three were represented on the podium as the No.8 Audi of Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval came second and the No.6 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS 050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi took third.

The No.13 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER of Dominik Kraihamer and Alexandre Imperatori took a conclusive win in the LMP1 Privateer class to take over the lead in the championship standings.

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.

Aston Martin Racing celebrated a fine double win in the LMGTE classes as the No.95 car of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim won in the Pro class and the No.98 car of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda swept to a dominant Am win.

Winning GTE Aston Martin drivers

When the race got underway at 5pm local time, ambient temperatures were over 35 degree Celsius and tested the drivers and mechanics to the limit. The cooler it became after sunset, the stronger the Porsche 919 Hybrid became. Thanks to a well-managed pit stop strategy, the winning trio took the lead sometime after mid distance.

In total this is the 12th victory for the innovative Porsche 919 Hybrid prototype since its 2014 debut. For Bernhard/Hartley/Webber it is their seventh WEC success. Porsche now leads the manufacturers' standings with 238 points ahead of Audi (185) and Toyota (137). Dumas/Jani/Lieb lead the drivers' standings by 37.5 points ahead of the best Audi trio.

Audi led the first half of round six of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with both R18 cars in commanding style. But in the end, its strong performance, with a trophy for second place, did not produce the desired reward. In the fifth hour, car number 7 lost a lot of time due to a collision in which its driver was not at fault.

During an overtaking maneuver, a lapped race car hit the Audi which subsequently spun into the guardrail. The sister car, number 8, that was leading for a long time, lost ground following several incidents and recovered to second place.

"It's hard to believe how much can go wrong in the course of a six-hour race," said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Our drivers delivered a tremendous performance and felt very comfortable in the Audi R18. We were fast in all sessions and in the race nobody drove any faster lap times than us either. The setbacks hit us hard because today a one-two would have been possible. In this light, second place is cold comfort."

The #67 Ford GT of Marino Franchitti (GB), Andy Priaulx (GB) and Harry Tincknell (GB) finished an incident-packed sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in fourth place after a gruelling six hours of racing at the Circuit of the Americas. The sister #66 Ford GT of Stefan Mucke (GER) and Olivier Pla (FRA) came home in seventh place after a troubled night in Texas.

"It was a tough day for us with a lot of the racing not going our way," said Raj Nair, executive vice president, Global Product Development and chief technical officer. "The #66 car had a lot of speed, especially at the end but with an AC compressor issue early on we were out of the running. We need to look at the #67 car and see why we didn’t get a little more speed out of it today. So all in all a tough day but we’re looking forward to the next race and we’ll do better then."

Despite overwhelmingly hot conditions for the start of the six-hour race, the GT battle set off at a furious pace, highlighted by a close fight between the #66 Ford GT of Stefan Mucke – which held onto its third place grid position at the start – being chased hard by the #97 Aston Martin, the #51 Ferrari, then Andy Priaulx in the #67 Ford GT. Unfortunately after only 20 minutes of racing, Mucke had to pit when his air conditioning failed. The German rejoined around 20 minutes later but many laps down from the GT frontrunners.

"I got a good start and managed to keep the car in P3," said Mucke. "The conditions were difficult as it was very very hot and the track was very greasy but we managed to keep the position. Unfortunately the air conditioning wasn’t working so we had to stop and repair it, which was a real shame. After that the car was running well and our pace was strong, especially as it got a little cooler as we went into the night.’

The drama wasn’t over for the #66 Ford GT. Olivier Pla had a strong stint during which he posted extremely competitive lap times but with just two hours to go Mucke was hit by an LMP2 car.

"I got hit hard in the rear left corner by a prototype in a full-throttle sixth gear corner, where there is just one racing line, and had a big spin," he explained. "Luckily I managed to avoid the barriers but we lost a lot of time there. Olivier also got hit by a prototype during his second stint. I want to say thank you to the team for giving us a strong car, which really showed its speed at the end but by then we were out of contention."

Andy Priaulx meanwhile had a great opening stint in the #67 Ford GT, followed up by a solid performance from Marino Franchitti. Harry Tincknell jumped in next before Priaulx took it to the flag.

"Andy took the start for us, maintained position and had a great run," said Tincknell. "He pitted from fifth but was only two seconds behind second place after a great nose-to-tail scrap. Marino was up next and then it was me. I was happy with my stint and couldn’t have given any more. I was catching up with third place and pulling away from fifth.

"I think we are losing a bit of time to the Ferrari during the pit stops and then on the final stint with us and the Ferrari on new tyres we just didn’t have the pace to catch them," he continued. "Fourth is ultimately disappointing as we thought we were on for a podium today. Once again the car ran faultlessly so our aim stays the same and we will continue the battle for the podium at Fuji."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The next round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place at Fuji in Japan on 16 October.

How the race went for car number 1:
Start driver Webber improves from P3 to P2, but then has to let the two leading Audis go. After 28 laps he hands the car over to Hartley, still in third position. During the stop Hartley drops back to fourth, but soon fights with Anthony Davidson in his Toyota and gets back P3. After 57 laps Bernhard takes over. His stint ends early after 76 laps, when the team uses a "Full Course Yellow" for a pit stop. Webber jumps in again and his stint is also shortened by a Full Course Yellow after lap 94. Hartley continues in P3. A longer pit stop for the number 8 Audi promotes him to P2. After 121 laps the race sees its third Full Course Yellow – just at the perfect time for the number 1 Porsche 919. Bernhard leaves the pits as the new race leader. On lap 133 an accident for the number 7 Audi leads to another Full Course Yellow. Bernhard hands over to Webber, who keeps defending the lead. After 164 laps Bernhard gets behind the wheel again. As happened during all the previous pit stops, the tires were changed as well. Bernhard brings home another race win.

Quotes after the race:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: "We knew during the entire event that these high temperatures were difficult for us. The fact we still managed to win such a race gives us hope for the remaining three rounds and our target to defend both championship titles. Soon we will be heading to Japan where we can clearly expect cooler conditions, which should help. All I can say is: Thanks to the team here on site and to our colleagues back home in Weissach. We have made another step on the path to winning the title again. This makes us very happy today and now we will be working painstakingly for Fuji."

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "Congratulations and a big thank you to the entire crew for this great team effort. At the beginning of the race, when the tarmac was extremely hot, we didn't have the pace of the Audis. But thanks to a strong and error-free job by our drivers, the fastest pit stops of the field, dead right strategic decisions and flawless technology, we have earned and deserved this win. It was hard work. On car number 2 we lost front downforce early on in the race, and this prevented them from fighting for a top position. Nonetheless we have managed another step on our mission to win both championships again. We will use the next three weeks to prepare for the final three races."

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 1
Timo Bernhard (35, Germany): "I think it's mega that we won our third consecutive race. We've had a difficult start to the season, but today delivered another error-free race. It was really hard work today! On my first stint the sun was very low and blinding, which wasn't nice. But the longer the race went and the cooler it became, the more we improved. We closed the gap to one Audi and then we were lucky to get a Full Course Yellow when we were due to pit anyway."

Brendon Hartley (26, New Zealand): "For us the race went very smoothly. It was clear to us that Audi would have an advantage in the high temperatures at the start, but we were hoping the race would come back to us and it did. After dark the competition with Audi was much more even. We got the strategy with the Full Course Yellow absolutely right."

Mark Webber (40, Australia): "It was tough racing with fair battles today and Timo's and Brendon's drives were awesome. After the start we got into a rhythm. In the middle of the race the situation looked stable. The Audis in front were extremely quick in the heat, but this was no surprise. We knew we had to do a clean race and if they had stayed that strong we would have pushed them over the line. But then Audi had a problem and we have been lucky when the timing of a Full Course Yellow played into our hands. Despite the heat, our guys in the garage did a great job again in the pit stops."

The start
The start

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "I'm extremely disappointed. We clearly had the fastest cars on track from the beginning to the end. However, we were not able to convert this performance into success because we made mistakes ourselves and, on top of that, fortune wasn't on our side today either."

Stefan Dreyer (Head of LMP): "The weekend has ended in disappointment. 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."

Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "Our disappointment is huge. We had the fastest car the whole weekend, plus both R18 were running reliably. It wasn't easy to lose the race following our one-two lead, but we managed to do so. The first pit stops weren't good, we were unfortunate again in yellow periods, plus there were the loss of electric power with number 8 and the accident of number 7 that wasn't our driver's fault."

Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 #8): "As drivers, we only have a certain share in the race result. There are always additional factors like pit stops or racing fortune. In contrast to us, Porsche managed a perfect race. Towards the end, I defended myself against an attack by a Toyota while I was trying to close the gap to the Porsche in front. That was fun, but also pretty strenuous in the heat."

Loïc Duval (Audi R18 #8): "I started the race without taking a big risk because I knew we were faster than Porsche. We worked hard and did a good job this weekend, but lost a race once more. When I was in the cockpit the car simply stopped due to an electrical issue. That cost us a lot of valuable time."

Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 #8): "The whole team soldiered on after Le Mans and prepared a great car for us. It's not enough to be fast. You have to do a perfect job in all areas. Today, we didn't get everything right. That's why second place feels like a loss – we missed victory."

Results

POS CLASS DRIVER TEAM CAR GAP
1 LMP1 T.Bernhard, M.Webber, B.Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 0.000s
2 LMP1 L.di Grassi, L.Duval, O.Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 23.641s
3 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, M.Conway, K.Kobayashi Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 26.096s
4 LMP1 R.Dumas, N.Jani, M.Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 1 Lap
5 LMP1 A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 2 Laps
6 LMP1 M.Fassler, A.Lotterer, B.Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 6 Laps
7 LMP1 M.Tuscher, D.Kraihamer, A.Imperatori Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 12 Laps
8 LMP2 G.Menezes, N.Lapierre, S.Richelmi Signatech Alpine Alpine/Nissan 14 Laps
9 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, B.Senna, F.Albuquerque RGR Sport by Morand Ligier/Nissan 15 Laps
10 LMP2 R.Rusinov, R.Rast, A.Brundle G-Drive Racing ORECA/Nissan 15 Laps
11 LMP1 S.Trummer, O.Webb ByKOLLES Racing Team CLM/AER 16 Laps
12 LMP2 N.Minassian, M.Mediani SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 18 Laps
13 LMP2 R.Dalziel, L.Derani, C.Cumming Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/Nissan 18 Laps
14 LMP2 V.Petrov, V.Shaytar, K.Ladygin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 19 Laps
15 LMP2 S.Sharp, E.Brown, J.van Overbeek Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/Nissan 20 Laps
16 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 23 Laps
17 GTE Pro G.Bruni, J.Calado AF Corse Ferrari 23 Laps
18 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird AF Corse Ferrari 24 Laps
19 GTE Pro M.Franchitti, A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 24 Laps
20 GTE Pro D.Turner, F.Rees Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 24 Laps
21 GTE Pro R.Lietz, M.Christensen Dempsey Racing – Proton Porsche 25 Laps
22 GTE Am C.Ried, W.Henzler, J.Camathias KCMG Porsche 28 Laps
23 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 28 Laps
24 GTE Am L.Viljoen, P.Ragues, R.Taylor Larbre Competition Chevrolet 29 Laps
25 GTE Am M.Wainwright, A.Carroll, B.Barker Gulf Racing UK Porsche 33 Laps
26 LMP2 D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung, N.Panciatici Baxi DC Racing Alpine Alpine/Nissan 33 Laps
27 GTE Am K.Al Qubaisi, D.H.Hansson, K.Estre Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 33 Laps
28 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, R.Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 39 Laps
29 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 42 Laps
LMP2 M.Rao, R.Bradley, R.Merhi Manor ORECA/Nissan Retirement
LMP2 N.Leventis, L.Williamson, J.Kane Strakka Racing Gibson/

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