Crash.Net Le Mans News
Audi takes Silverstone 1-2
14 April 2013
A nail-biting end to the Six Hours of Silverstone saw the Allan McNish beat fellow Audi driver Benoit Treluyer to victory as the new World Endurance Championship season kicked off on British soil.
McNish, driving the #2 R18 e-tron Quattro, was able to pass Treluyer to take victory with just five minutes of the race remaining to secure the RAC Tourist Trophy alongside team-mates Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen.
It also ensured first blood to the German marque in its battle for championship honours with rivals Toyota.
McNish had started the race from third on the grid but soon worked his way to the front, passing the Toyotas of Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz within the first half a dozen laps, with Treluyer working his way through to second in the sister car.
The #7 Toyota then seemed to encounter a problem as Wurz was passed by Davidson and dropped back with tyre smoke appearing from the back of the Toyota in the braking zone at the end of The Vale as the brakes locked up. However the Austrian was able to keep going and maintain the gap to the the front runners.
The LMP1 Privateer battle between Rebellion and Strakka failed to materialise after Jonny Kane had to start the race at the back of the grid after Strakka's HPD-Honda failed to complete four laps. The two Rebellion Lola Toyotas therefore led the way, with both cars being able to keep in close formation and within a lap of the works Audis and Toyotas.
The battle for LMP2 honours was led by the #25 Delta-ADR Oreca Nissan of Antonio Pizzonia from pole position with the #35 Oak Racing Morgan of Martin Plowman moving up from fourth on the grid to finish the first hour in second.
It wasn't a happy time for the Lotus team however as the #31 T128 of Vitantonio Liuzzi had to make several pitstops for a loose door and the #32 Lotus of Jan Charouz was hit by the Pecom Racing Oreca of Nicolas Minassian, causing damage to the steering and bodywork that looked like it may cause the cars retirement.
In hour two the #2 Audi maintained the lead built up by McNish in the first 60 minutes with Duval ending the second hour with a lead of 15 seconds ahead of Marcel Fassler in the sister car. The #8 Toyota TS030 was still on the lead lap but Stephane Sarrazin was over 80 seconds behind the lead Audis and 20 seconds ahead of teammate Nicolas Lapierre in the #7.
The LMP1 Privateer battle meanwhile became a two horse race when Nick Leventis in the Strakka Racing HPD-Honda spun across the track at T3 and hit the Ferrari of Jack Gerber who was turning in for the next corner. The resulting damage forced Leventis to retire.
The LMP2 battle was being led by the Delta ADR-run G Drive-sponsored Oreca Nissan of John Martin, with the sister car of Tor Graves nearly a minute behind the Australian in eighth overall.
A sharp rain shower during the third hour shook things up with the LMP2 leader Martin spinning across the track on the exit of the final corner and hitting the pitwall. With most of the cars on slicks a full course yellow was declared, which was withdrawn a short time later as the strong wind blew the rain clouds away from the circuit.
There was also a lead change at the front of the field with the #1 Audi taking the lead. At the top of the hour, the #2 came into the pits with Duval handing over to Kristensen. The Dane pushed the car on the opening lap of his stint as the #1 car pitted with Fassler handing over to Andre Lotterer. The German emerged from the pits behind the #2 Audi but Kristenen found himself unsighted by an Aston Martin and Lotterer took advantage to sweep into the lead.
The #12 Rebellion Lola Toyota extended its lead in the LMP1 Privateer class, ending the third hour two laps ahead of the sister car with Frankie Cheng behind the wheel.
With the demise of the #26 G Drive Oreca, which re-joined the track after a lengthy pitstop to repair the damage caused by the accident, the lead reverted to the #25 Delta-ADR Oreca of Tor Graves, who held a 90 second advantage over the #24 Oak Racing Morgan Nissan of David Heinemeier Hansson.
In the fourth hour the typical English spring weather continued as the sun came out to bathe the Silverstone track in sunlight. The #1 Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer ended the fourth hour of the race in the same position the German began it, leading the race by 8.1 seconds ahead of the #2 Audi R18 e-tron of Tom Kristensen.
The two Toyotas were in third and fourth places with the #8 TS030 of Sebastien Buemi holding the final podium position one lap behind the leader. Alex Wurz was back behind the wheel of the #7 Toyota, 42 seconds adrift of Buemi.
The LMP1 Privateer leader was still Nicolas Prost in the #12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota, two laps ahead of the #13 sister car which still had Frankie Cheng on driving duties.
The LMP2 lead also ended as it began an hour earlier with the #25 Delta ADR Oreca of John Martin leading the field ahead of the #24 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan of Alex Brundle, who briefly led the race when the lad car pitted for fuel and tyres.
A short fuel stop in the fifth hour for the #1 Audi of Benoit Treluyer set up a great showdown between the two R18 e-tron quattros in the last hour of the race. The #2 Audi of McNish stopped at the top of the hour for fuel and tyres from the head of the field, which gave the lead to Treluyer who pitted a lap later. However the French driver completed a short 51 second stop to get back out on track in front of his Scottish teammate.
The two Toyota TS030 were a lap behind with the #8 TS030 of Anthony Davidson still holding the upper hand over the #7 Toyota of Alex Wurz. The #12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota of Nick Heidfeld is still in a dominant position in the privateer class.
In LMP2 the #25 Delta-ADR Oreca was still at the front of the field, 43 seconds in front of the #24 Oak Racing Morgan of Olivier Pla. The #35 Oak Morgan of Alex Brundle pitted from third place but a faulty starter motor left the British driver stranded in the pitlane and dropped the car down the order and the mechanics worked hard to fix the fault.
As the chequered flag approached McNish, whose car was on fresh tyres following the pitstop, was reeling in the leading Audi with just a few laps remaining. Treluyer didn't have an answer for the faster car and McNish swept into the lead at Luffield and moved ahead to win the race by nearly 3.5 seconds. The two Toyotas were third and fourth with the two Rebellion Racing Lolas in fifth and sixth overall.
The LMP2 victory went to the #25 Delta-ADR Oreca of Antonio Pizzonia, Tor Graves and James Walker, with the #24 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan in second place. The third placed #41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan was given a one lap penalty when Michael Marsal failed to respect the minimum driving time of 1h15m, moving the team down to fifth in the LMP2 result. The #49 Pecom Racing Oreca was promoted to third place and the #35 Oak Racing Morgan to fourth.
In the manufacturer's centenary year, and in front of its CEO Dr Ulrich Bez and hundreds of guests, friends and families, Aston Martin Racing celebrated a dominant double victory in both the LMGTE categories.
Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Bruno Senna ran a flawless race to win the Pro class in their #97 Vantage V8, having led the race from start to finish. The trio survived an early traction control problem, rain showers and pressure in the first hour from both its sister #99 Aston Martin Vantage (Paul Dalla Lana, Frederic Makowiecki and Pedro Lamy) and the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella.
From that stage onwards, the British-German-Brazilian driver line up stretched out a lead they were never to relinquish and finished one lap ahead of their nearest rival, the #71 AF Corse Ferrari.
Making his debut in the FIA WEC, just as Senna was, Kamui Kobayashi and his driving partner, Toni Vilander, were thrilled to finish ahead of the #99 Aston Martin, maintaining their cool to take the chequered flag 12.5 seconds ahead of the first of the Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSRs.
Last year's leading LMGTE Pro pairing, Bruni and Fisichella, had a difficult race and ended up having to make one more pit stop than their rivals which cost them dearly. Although the new Porsche 911 RSRs were not able to claim a podium finish on this occasion, the car's performance on track was impressive and it will surely not be long.
In LMGTE Am there was drama right to the end, although fortunately none of it affected the class winners, the #95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Christian Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Alan Simonsen. The Danish trio, unlike their Pro team-mates, had to wait until in the second hour to take the lead of the class but, once in that position, they didn't loosen their grip on it and finished a resounding three laps ahead of their nearest rival.
A fantastic battle took place between the second and third placed cars – the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette C6-ZR1 and the #81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia – although the final finishing positions could so easily have been reversed. In the final laps of the race Rui Aguas in the Ferrari was holding second position, hotly pursued by Fernando Rees in the Corvette, until the Ferrari was nudged from behind by the French car.
The contact led to a left rear puncture with just four minutes of the race to go and in the end the orange Ferrari was forced to cede the second step of the podium.