Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer today strengthened their challenge for the lead of the World Endurance Drivers Championship by taking the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro to victory in the 6 Hours of Sao Pãulo, the fourth round of 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship. The 38,000 Brazilian fans who have visited a gloriously warm and sunny Interlagos track over the past three days have been treated to a feast of thrills and excitement on and off track at all times.
The reigning World Champions started from pole position but were passed at the start by a hard-charging Allan McNish in the No.2 Audi Sport Team Joest entry. The change to the overall lead came when Tom Kristensen was delayed leaving the pits by a slow-moving LMGTE Am car, demoting the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans winners to second place.
Despite unexpectedly losing a wheel in the fourth hour and suffering further delays, the No.2 maintained second place overall and finished one lap ahead of the only other LMP1 finisher, the Privateer entry of Rebellion Racing. The No.12 Lola Toyota of Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche finished two laps behind the Audi 1-2 after having a trouble-free and unchallenged run from start to finish.
Toyota Racing’s challenge for the LMP Manufacturers World Championship received an early blow when the No.8 Toyota TS030 of Stéphane Sarrazin was an innocent victim in a collision with the No.32 Lotus. The car was heavily damaged after crashing into the barriers and, despite his best efforts, the Frenchman was unable to rejoin and the car was forced to retire after just 35 minutes of the 6-hour race.
McNish-Kristensen-Duval now have 112 points in the World Endurance Drivers Championship standings, with today’s 6 Hours of Sao Paulo winners on 90 points, and Audi has extended its lead in the World Endurance Manufacturers Championship to 128 points against Toyota Racing’s 67.
In LMP2 the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 03 Nissan of Roman Rusinov, Mike Conway and John Martin had a faultless race from flag to flag, and crossed the finish line a lap ahead of their nearest class rivals, the No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan of Bertrand Baguette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Martin Plowman. British driver Conway set the trio on the path to victory with a solid triple stint in the first three hours, and the drivers felt that the ability to double-stint their Dunlop tyres was an undoubted advantage. The ORECA 03 Nissan of Pecom Racing’s Luis Perez Companc, Nicolas Minassian and Pierre Kaffer held second in class for much of the race but safety cars and pit stops saw several cars lose positions, and the Argentinian entry eventually finished third in class.
The result means that OAK Racing’s 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winners, Baguette-Gonzalez-Plowman (subject to the appeal lodged by G-Drive Racing against their exclusion which is due to be heard on 10 September), now hold a 14 point lead in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 drivers (95 points).