Ford Scores GTE-Pro Honors; Last-Lap Drama in GTE-Am

Photo: Ford

Photo: Ford

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has won the GTE-Pro battle in the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone, successfully holding back competition from Porsche GT Team and AF Corse.

A last-lap accident between the two leading GTE-Am cars, meanwhile, gave top class honors to Clearwater Racing in its series debut.

The pair of Ford GTs both led at various stages in the race, although Harry Tincknell was out front for the final stint, taking a home class victory alongside Andy Priaulx and Ford newcomer Pipo Derani.

The reigning European Le Mans Series champion pitted with 20 minutes on the clock for a front-left tire, briefly losing the lead, but Fred Makowiecki followed suit soon after, putting the Ford back ahead of the Porsche 911 RSR.

This came after Billy Johnson had led for a while during the middle part of the race, with his sister No. 66 Ford eventually dropping back to finish fourth with Olivier Pla at the wheel.

It wasn’t a completely smooth race for the eventual class winners however, as a loose door brought Priaulx into the pits after 30 minutes, putting the car on an alternative strategy as only the front-left tire was changed in the early stop.

Nevertheless, the three-time FIA World Touring Car Champion managed to make up time after the unscheduled stop, before handing over to Derani and Tincknell later in the race.

Tincknell also had to battle the same loose right-side door in the closing laps but managed to slam it shut to take top honors.

Ford had to hold off attempts all throughout the race from the No. 91 Porsche which ran strongly on its series debut with Makowiecki and Richard Lietz.

The Frenchman started seventh in class but had a strong opening stint, taking the car up to second and battling Priaulx for the lead early in the race. 

He was back in the car for the final stint and was set for a second-place finish until he came into the pits with less than 15 minutes on the clock, dropping him to third.

The No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE was also fighting for the lead, and new-for-2017 Ferrari factory driver Alessandro Pier Guidi took advantage of the Porsche’s pit stop to take second position in the final few laps.

One of the race’s two Full Course Yellows was caused by Kevin Estre’s No. 92 Porsche going up in flames with an engine fire at the midway point, taking that car out of contention.

Sam Bird meanwhile was handed a 15-second penalty for contact with Mathias Beche’s LMP2 car at Abbey, dropping the No. 71 Ferrari to sixth.

Aston Martin Racing had a race to forget in the Pro category, with both Aston Martin Vantage GTEs off the pace and finishing at the back of the class.

Jonny Adam collided with the ByKolles car at pit entry in the final hour, damaging the No. 97 Aston Martin and further adding to the British marque’s troubles.

Matt Griffin took the GTE-Am class win on the last lap as Pedro Lamy and Miguel Molina, fighting for the lead in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE and Spirit of Race Ferrari, collided at Stowe. 

This allowed the Irishman to come through to take the win in the Clearwater Ferrari 488 GTE alongside co-drivers Keita Sawa and Mok Weng Sun.

He took the class lead from Lamy on the pit straight with 24 minutes remaining but he had to pit soon after, dropping him back to third behind the Aston Martin and the-then second-place Spirit of Race car.

Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda had led most of the race in the Aston Martin, despite a couple of spins from the Canadian driver. 

The Aston Martin finished ahead of Matteo Cairoli’s Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche. Molina’s Spirit of Race car didn’t make it to the checkered flag and so wasn’t classified. 

RESULTS: 6H Silverstone

20 Comments

  1. JLewis

    April 16, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    As much of a fan of Aston Martin Racing as I am, and as much as I like the Vantage, a new car is needed. The platform is showing its age, and has been for some time.

    • Nick1

      April 16, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      I think a new car is coming next year

      • Geoff

        April 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm

        I know the Vantage road car for 2018 is based on the DB11 frame, with a twin turbo 4.0 litre V8 AMG engine, but I’m not sure if their new racecar will be based on that, or something else entirely. Hope it’s competitive, whatever it is.

        • John R Martin

          April 16, 2017 at 6:58 pm

          I was under the impression that any GTE entry must be based in a production vehicle or prospective production vehicle.

          • Geoff

            April 16, 2017 at 7:40 pm

            AMR might have a new GTE car by as early as 2018, but that has not been confirmed. The road car Vantage is being updated for 2018, which includes the Mercedes engine, and being based off the DB11 frame. It’s supposed to be unveiled at one of the auto shows this year. If Aston Martin plans on continuing to use the Vantage as their race car, it would make sense that it would be based on the new one, whenever it goes into production. But nothing is confirmed yet in any case.

        • Andres

          April 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm

          Cannot be an AMG engine, it is Mercedes engine, Aston Martin wont be doing that thing

          • Geoff

            April 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm

            Yeah, my derp.

  2. JBV

    April 16, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    With the current BoP state locked in through Spa, the GT battle might only be from 3rd on down. Good GTE race overall, but the relative performance gap from the Fords to the rest of the field confirm that the “auto-BoP” is only as good as the input data.

    • Racing fan

      April 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      The auto-BOP starts with the data from this race on, hard to use test data to balance race performance. Wait until Spa to deride the inputs and information they use to develop the BOP. No, not a supporter of it but at least let it be in place and work before you bash it.

      • JBV

        April 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm

        I’m not necessarily bashing the system, just a bit concerned at this juncture (I know it is super early in the season). We shall wait and see.

        • GSW

          April 16, 2017 at 5:28 pm

          I don’t know much the Fords should really be penalized. They were turning quick laps when they had no traffic in front to start the race but they weren’t blowing anyone away thereafter, and outright pace isn’t what won them this race. They lucked out with the safety car. The ancient brick Aston Martins are still setting event maximum speeds, which is quite funny.

          The GT and the RSR are a fair fight. Let them fight.

  3. Bert Withouternie

    April 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    The Fords are still to damn fast…need more weight or less boost, I would like to see the Fords much heavier…

    • KARL

      April 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Lets not turn it into NASCAR!

    • WBrowning

      April 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      So the heaviest cars with the least boost needs even more weight and less boost. It looks like the Porsche was either sandbagging or had left the parking brakes on for qualifying. Could it be that Ford is the only team showing their real hand before Le Mans?

      I see in my crystal ball an unhealthy amount of accusations, and name calling in the future of GTE Pro racing. Just wait till the Chevy boys get their bow ties ruffled if they show poorly being the “LM only” brigade. You can’t accuse them of sandbagging, because they aren’t around for the rest of the races.

      • JBV

        April 16, 2017 at 9:45 pm

        The Porsche guys made a strategic call during quali to conserve tires for the race, hence the resulting quali spots, quali for a 6Hr race doesn’t mean much except for the bonus point. The outright pace of the Fords at various points during the race seemed to be beyond the capabilities of the other three makes (no one got even close to the 1:57.416 that Priaulx banged out in lap 2). We shall see what happens at Spa in a few weeks time.

  4. fourloko

    April 16, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    i thought FIA was going to be more transparent this year with BOP? like how you can see the weights/restrictor/boost levels in imsa. anyone else salty about those two daft commentators on the app? i had to watch the replay so i couldnt listen to radio lemans.

  5. fourloko

    April 16, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    speaking of bop, too soon for porsche?

    https://cdn.meme.am/instances/76640935.jpg

    • WBrowning

      April 17, 2017 at 3:22 am

      Love the link. But, Yes they can, if they ran quick lap times.

  6. tracer

    April 17, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    For all those pointing to Spa as being the watershed evaluation point for the new auto-BOP system, am I correct in recalling that the new system doesn’t kick in any adjustments until the 3rd round of the season post-LM24?

    • JBV

      April 17, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      You are correct. The next round will carry the same BoP as Silverstone. Le Mans will have its own BoP and the very revision based on the auto-system will be released prior to the race at Nurburgring.

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