Last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans provided a significant shakeup in the race for the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The double points-paying round saw Audi close the gap to Toyota, thanks to its 13th win in the famed around-the-clock enduro.
Despite a double-retirement in the season-opener at Silverstone, the German manufacturer has clawed to within one point of Toyota in the Manufacturer’s Championship, thanks to its surprise 1-2 finish in La Sarthe.
Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler’s win, meanwhile, puts them within 20 points of Toyota’s Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi, who salvaged a third place finish after getting collected in an early race accident.
The retirement of Toyota’s sister TS040 Hybrid of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin, which led for most of the race, all but eliminates the trio from the championship, with a 45-point defect to the points leaders.
The LMP2 championship was turned upside down, with retirements from three of the four full-season entries in the race.
As a result, SMP Racing’s Sergey Zlobin now leads the title chase, thanks to he and co-driver Anton Ladygin and Mika Salo’s 12th place class finish in the No. 27 Oreca 03 Nissan.
The Russian-backed squad holds a 25-point lead in the teams’ championship as well, over the OAK-run G-Drive Racing outfit, which scored dominant class wins in the opening two rounds of the season but crashed out at Le Mans.
Anton Ladygin, who has been elevated to second in points, is expected to return to SMP’s No. 37 entry for the remainder of the season alongside his brother Kirill, which could put the AF Corse-run operation in prime championship position with two bullets.
G-Drive’s Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal trail Zlobin by 25 points, with KCMG’s Matt Howson and Richard Bradley a further 15 points back in fifth.
With back-to-back wins from AF Corse (GTE-Pro) and Aston Martin Racing’s second in three races, both teams have solidified their mark on the production-based ranks.
Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander now hold a 33-point advantage over Porsche duo Fred Makowiecki and Marzo Holzer, with AF Corse and Ferrari also still out front in the team and manufacturers’ championships.
Le Mans winners Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson, meanwhile maintain command of GTE-Am, with third driver Nicki Thiim, who missed Spa, moving into second place in the standings. The Young Driver-backed AMR outfit also leads the teams’ title chase.
The FIA WEC now enters its summer break, with the fourth round of the season set for Circuit of The Americas in Austin on Sept. 18-20.