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WEC - World Champions return to winning form in Germany

WEC - 2016 6 Hours of Nurburgring - Race report
FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX

Driving the no1 Porsche 919 hybrid the trio completed 194 laps of the 5.148m Nurburgring track, taking the chequered flag 53 seconds ahead of the two Audi R18s, the no8 Audi of Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval finishing 0.6 seconds ahead of their teammates Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer.

Signatech Alpine took their third win of 2016 when the no36 Alpine A460-Nissan finished 16 seconds ahead of the no43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier. 

Ferrari took a 1-2 in the LMGTE Pro category with James Calado scoring his debut WEC win alongside Gianmaria Bruni, the 2013 and 2014 GT World Champion securing his 13th class win in the World Endurance Championship.  In the LMGTE Am was the no98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy who secured class honours, 62 seconds ahead the second placed no83 AF Corse Ferrari.

6 Hours of Nurburgring

The conditions were warm and dry, with broken cloud over the circuit, as the cars started the 6 Hours of Nurburgring.  The two Audi R18s were on the front row and pole position holder Marcel Fassler led the way through the first corner.  Timo Bernhard in the no1 Porsche managed to get ahead of the no8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis and was soon putting the pressure on Fassler. 

Bernhard made several attempts to take the lead but couldn’t find a way past the very wide Audi.  The no2 Porsche of Neel Jani made a move on Jarvis’ Audi for third into turn 1but with lots of traffic around he had to brake and clipped the no67 Ford GT and spun off, the Swiss driver quickly rejoined but further down the order.

The first pitstops saw the order shaken with the no1 Porsche of Brendon Hartley now in the lead of the two Audis, which had reversed order during the stops, with the no8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis ahead of the no7 of Andre Lotterer.  However a slow puncture forced Hartley back to the pits for fresh rubber.

The start of the race saw plenty of battles in the other classes with the no26 G Drive Racing Oreca of Rene Rast get a great start from pole position.  The German pulled out lead over the no36 Signatech Alpine and no42 Strakka Racing Gibson.  The G Drive Oreca looked to be on course for their first win but the bad luck that has dogged the team who have scored four pole positions in four races returned and a gearbox issue put them into retirement.

In LMGTE it was the two Aston Martin Vantage V8s of Nicki Thiim (no95) and Richie STanaway (no97) which got the best start.  Stanaway had a clash with the no66 Ford GT of Stefan Mucke at the first corner early on in the race but both cars came out unscathed.  At the pitstops the no67 Ford of Andy Priaulx caught fire in the pitlane after fuel came gushing out of the filler cap and onto the hot exhaust.  The fire marshals quickly extinguished the flames and Priaulx was unharmed.  After a bit of work the no67 Ford rejoined the race 10 laps down.

In LMGTE Am Pat Long in the no88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche led for most of the first hour but dropped back after a slow first pitstop.  The no.98 Aston Martin led LMGTE Am category with Mathias Lauda heading KCMG Porsche and Larbre Corvette after epic wheel-to-wheel battle with the three cars covered by just 1.8 seconds

The no2 Porsche 919 inherited the lead after a Full Course Yellow favoured them, allowing them to pit just as the FCY was declared. Neel Jani was able to come out into the lead with 10-second cushion over the sister Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard.  However this situation changed when the no2 Porsche 919 of Marc Lieb dived down the inside of the no88 LMGTE Porsche of Khalid Al Qubaisi but Al Qubaisi turned in and the clash resulted in the no88 Porsche in the gravel and damage to the no2 Porsche 919 which meant an unscheduled trip to the pits.  Mark Webber in the no1 Porsche inherited the lead and the world champion took the car to the chequered flag.

While Webber held a comfortable 31 second lead, the battle for the final podium places was really intense.  The no8 Audi of Loic Duval had the no2 Porsche of Neel Jani right behind him, but Jani in turn had to fend off the determined challenge of Andre Lotterer in the no7 Audi. The two fought side by side for several laps and banged wheels on several occasions as the battle raged.  However it came to a head when they clashed at the final chicane and part of the rear body work on the Porsche detached. 

This brought out the Full Course Yellow and the Porsche pitted.  However the team elected not to replace the rear bodywork and a Black and Orange flag a few laps after the race returned to green meant Jani had to pit again for a new rear panel.  The two Audis were then clear to run to the chequered flag behind the leading Porsche, with Jani bringing the no2 Porsche home in 4th and still on the lead lap.  The two Toyota TS050s came home in 5th and 6th after a disappointing race for the Japanese team.

In the Privateer LMP1 class the No.13 Rebellion drivers Kraihamer/Tuscher and Imperatori took their third victory of the season after race of attrition that saw the no4 Bykolles CLM-AER of Oliver Webb stop on track before a small engine fire was seen and quickly extinguished.

The no36 Signatech Alpine stretches title advantage as Lapierre/Menezes and Richelmi took their third straight win finishing 16 seconds ahead of the Mexican RGR Sports Ligier of Senna/Gonzalez and Albuquerque who take their second podium of the season despite late race trip across gravel.  The no31 Extreme Speed Motorsport Ligier-Nissan of Derani/Cumming and Dalziel scored their third podium of year but two laps behind the leading cars at the end of the 6 hour race.

The 6 Hours of Nurburgring saw the first victory of the season for Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado in No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488GTE, which finished 29 seconds ahead of their teammates Sam Bird and Davide Rigon in the no71 F488.  The no95 Aston Martin led for a large part of race but Marco Sorenson and Nicki Thiim have to settle for third place, 47 seconds behind the no51 Ferrari.

It was better news for Aston Martin in the LMGTE Am class as Mathias Lauda/Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy take their second win of the 2016 season after heading home no78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR.  However the Porsche was disqualified following the post race scrutineering checks for not complying with the minimum ride height, which promoted the no83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Perrodo/Collard and Aguas into second after recovering from early race spin.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 6 Hours of Mexico on Saturday 3 September, a new event on the WEC calendar.

CLICK HERE for the results from the 6 Hours of Nurburgring.