Silverstone WEC: #1 Audi e-tron wins hard-fought race
|By Sam Tremayne||Sunday, August 26th 2012, 17:13 GMT|
Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler delivered Audi's e-tron quattro the 2012 Silverstone 6 Hours crown after a race-long fight with the sister R18 and Toyota's lone TS030 Hybrid.
Victory also earned Audi the constructors' title in the inaugural year of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima meanwhile secured a podium in only the TS030's second race. It was a constant threat, taking the fight to Audi from the start and leading for long spells.
The e-tron's ability to run far longer stints - coupled with a providential late safety car - ultimately decided the contest however, with both R18s able to make one less stop across the six hours.
The differing pit schedules only added to what was a fascinating contest, with the TS030 building upon its Le Mans promise and proving an equal for the Audis on single-lap and long-run pace.
That was apparent from the opening half hour when Wurz first jumped Tom Kristensen's Ultra and moved into second at the start, before closing down and then passing Lotterer's e-tron for the lead of the race as the pair fought their way through traffic.
Wurz began to stretch away but pitted after just 22 laps, compared to Audi's stops on laps 25 and 26.
That marked the start of a continued swapping of the lead by the #1 Audi and #7 Toyota whenever the pitstops cycled through, which would carry on until the final hour when a safety car helped Audi's bid to complete the race with seven stops, compared to Toyota's eight.
The extra stop finally allowed Lotterer some breathing space in the lead Audi, and also set up an excellent late battle between Wurz and Kristensen in the #2 Audi.
The latter had lost ground with a rear puncture early on, but fought back and was just 13s down the road when Wurz rejoined for the final time with 30 minutes to run. The Austrian extended that by 5s however to secure second.
As a result, Allan McNish and Kristensen surrendered the lead in the WEC drivers' standings to sister #1 R18 trio.
The privateer LMP1 battle proved equally fierce, with all four entries often on the same lap - that despite a spin for the #22 JRM HPD on the opening lap.
In the end the fight was settled in favour of the #13 Rebellion Lola of Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani, which had to hang on in the face of severe late pressure from the #21 Strakka HPD. There was less than a second to choose between them at the flag.
It was a similar story in LMP2, where the lead changed hands constantly throughout the six hours - starting as early as the opening lap when polesitter Alex Brundle was forced off in order to avoid the stricken JRM HPD.
The #42 Greaves Zytek-Nissan fought back up to third only for a stop-go penalty to effectively end its podium challenge, dropping it to fifth.
Victory instead came down to a three-way fight between ADR-Delta, Starworks and Signatech, with the respective #25, #44 and #26 cars covered by less than 20s heading into the final two laps.
Stephane Sarrazin was the quickest of the trio in the Starworks HPD, but ran out of time to deny ADR-Delta's John Martin, Tor Graves and Jan Charouz the class win.
As was the case in LMP1, fuel conservation proved critical in GTE Pro as the profligacy of the Ferraris allowed the #51 AF Corse and #66 JMW 458s to cruise home first and second.
Aston Martin had been able to mix it with both cars on pure pace, but found itself outside the top three after making an extra stop.
Stefan Mucke put in a fantastic late shift however, and on the final lap seized third in controversial manner from the second #71 AF Corse entry.
The pair headed into Vale for the final time side by side and brushing panels. Mucke appeared to have the advantage on the outside, but the fight was settled as Andrea Bertolini spun across his bows and dropped out of the final podium spot.
Ferrari also proved the car to beat in GTE Am, with the lone AF Corse entry leading for much of the way and eventually claiming the win in the hands of Piergiuseppe Perazzini, Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin.
Results - 194 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time 1. P1 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer Audi 6h00m39.594s 2. P1 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota + 55.675s 3. P1 Kristensen/McNish Audi + 1m14.427s 4. P1 Belicchi/Primat Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 5 laps 5. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD + 5 laps 6. P1 Prost/Jani Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 5 laps 7. P1 Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck JRM HPD + 7 laps 8. P2 Martin/Charouz/Graves ADR-Delta ORECA-Nissan + 11 laps 9. P2 Potolicchio/Dalziel/Sarrazin Starworks HPD + 11 laps 10. P2 Panciatici/Ragues/Rusinov Signatech ORECA-Nissan + 11 laps 11. P2 Perez Companc/Ayari/Kaffer Pecom ORECA-Nissan + 12 laps 12. P2 Ordonez/Brundle/Brundle Greaves Zytek-Nissan + 12 laps 13. P2 Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla OAK Morgan-Nissan + 12 laps 14. P2 Dolan/Hancock/Minassian Jota Zytek-Nissan + 12 laps 15. P2 Sims/Jousse/Jousse Status Lola-Judd + 13 laps 16. P2 Firth/Hughes/Hartley Murphy ORECA-Nissan + 14 laps 17. P2 Heinemeier Hansson/Baguette/Kraihamer OAK Morgan-Nissan + 18 laps 18. P2 Giroix/Ihara/Deletraz Gulf Lola-Nissan + 18 laps 19. P2 Holzer/Schultis/Albers Lotus Lola-Lotus + 20 laps 20. P2 Zugel/Gonzalez/Julian Greaves Zytek-Nissan + 21 laps 21. GTE P Fisichella/Bruni AF Ferrari + 23 laps 22. GTE P Walker/Cocker JMW Ferrari + 25 laps 23. GTE P Fernandez/Mucke/Turner Aston Martin + 25 laps 24. GTE A Perazzini/Cioci/Griffin AF Ferrari + 28 laps 25. GTE A Bornhauser/Canal/Rees Larbre Corvette + 28 laps 26. GTE A Ried/Roda/Ruberti Felbermayr Porsche + 28 laps 27. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari + 29 laps 28. GTE P Lieb/Lietz Felbermayr Porsche + 30 laps 29. GTE A Goethe/Hall Aston Martin + 31 laps 30. GTE A Belloc/Bourret/Gibon Larbre Corvette + 32 laps 31. GTE A Camathias/Palttala/Daniels JWA Porsche + 33 laps Retirements: GTE P Bertolini/Beretta AF Ferrari 168 laps GTE A Adam/Howard/White Aston Martin 157 laps P2 Mailleux/Lombard/Tresson Signatech ORECA-Nissan 135 laps P2 Liuzzi/Rossiter/Weeda Lotus Lola-Lotus 26 laps