FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend
The weather was as warm and sunny as the welcome extended to the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend. In 30oC (90oF) temperatures today, the LMGTE categories today produced some of the closest and most entertaining racing within the 6 Hours of The Circuit of The Americas, the fifth round of the FIA WEC.
Fred Makowiecki and Bruno Senna put on a dominant display of driving in the No.99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 to claim victory in LMGTE Pro, despite being put under persistent pressure by the two AF Corse Ferraris. The Frenchman took his first win of the FIA WEC season, and Brazilian Senna his second after the 6 Hours of Silverstone, but 15 seconds behind them in second place was Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella in the No.51 Ferrari 458 Italia. The result was enough to put the Italians into the lead of the World Endurance Cup for GT drivers by three points; the Ferrari factory drivers have 99 points, and Porsche drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz, who today finished fourth in class, have 96 points.
Third in the Pro category, and only 1.7 seconds behind their teammates, were former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi and his Finnish team mate Toni Vilander in the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari. Unlike in Brazil, they fortunately got to the chequered flag without a fiery incident but this wasn’t the case for the No.91 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR of Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet. A pit lane fire cost them 4 laps in the pits for repairs and they finished 5th in the Pro class.
Even greater misery befell Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke in the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 which had been leading the GT drivers’ classification going into the Austin round. Turner fell foul of the circuit’s high kerbs and damaged the floor of the car and the car was retired in the fifth hour of the race. The result dropped the pair to third place in the classification on 86 points.
A late-race challenge for the lead by Jamie Campbell-Walter rewarded the No.96 Aston Martin Vantage V8 with its second LMGTE win of the year, the Briton sharing the cockpit once again with Stuart Hall. The result gives the pairing the 95 points in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am drivers and the championship lead, plus a four point advantage over Frenchmen Raymond Narac and Jean-Karl Vernay who finished third in today’s 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas.
The No.95 duelled throughout the race with their Aston Martin Racing team mates in the No.95 entry: Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard. The Danish trio pushed the Britons right to the very end and they finished 1.7 seconds behind the winners and 57 seconds in front of the No.76 IMSA Performance Matmut 911 GT3 RSR of Narac and Vernay.
Ferrari now lead the World Endurance Cup for GT manufacturers by 182 points, with Aston Martin on 170 points and Porsche on 163.
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 6 Hours of Fuji in Japan on 20th October. From the cowboy boots and Stetsons of Texas to the kimonos and mountains of Fuji – the World Endurance Championship offers something for everyone the world over.