***All six factory LMP1 cars faced setbacks at one point in Saturday’s inaugural Six Hours of Mexico, with Audi missing out on victory, after strong showings from both of its R18s. The No. 8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis crashed in the fourth hour after a left-front wheel bearing failure, while Andre Lotterer had brake issues that sent the No. 7 car into the wall with less than 90 minutes to go.
***The No. 8 Audi spent considerable time in the garage with further issues, but did manage to complete the final lap for it to be classified at the end and score crucial manufacturer points. Oliver Jarvis, Lucas Di Grassi and Loic Duval, however, have slipped to third in the Drivers’ World Championship, 43.5 points behind Porsche’s Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas.
***A third place finish for Toyota’s Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayshi, their third podium of the season, has now put the trio second in the championship, despite not yet having a win with the new Toyota TS050 Hybrid. Saturday’s result came after a rebuild of the car on Thursday around a new tub following Sarrazin’s heavy accident in the Collective Test.
***Aston Martin has taken over the lead of the World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers, following its first GTE-Pro class victory in more than a year. The British manufacturer now holds a four-point lead over Ferrari.
***AMR’s Darren Turner is also now out front of the GT Drivers’ Championship, three points ahead of teammates Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim, whose accident in the fourth hour dashed hopes of an Aston 1-2 in the race. The “Dane Train” however still managed to finish third.
***Ford pairing Olivier Pla and Stefan Muecke, who headed into the weekend as championship leaders, have dropped to 5th, 13.5 points behind Turner, after a race to forget, which saw their No. 66 Ford GT battle throttle issue.
***Despite reports to the contrary, the normally aspirated Aston Martin and Porsches were not given larger air restrictors for this event. No BoP changes were made to the GTE classes for Mexico City, outside of the referenced atmospheric pressure for turbocharged cars, which is adjusted at each race depending on the altitude and weather.
***Khaled al Qubasi scored his long-awaited first career WEC class victory, teaming with Patrick Long and David Heinemeier Hansson for top honors in GTE-Am. The Abu Dhabi-backed driver becomes the first Emirati to win in the series, while it was Porsche’s first win of the season in either GTE-Pro or GTE-Am with the 911 RSR.
***Long was particularly proud by the performance of both Heinemeier Hansson and Al Qubasi, who are two legitimate gentlemen drivers. “Ironically I think we are the only car out there that the two guys who have the Silver and Bronze ratings actually have a real job,” Long said. “They are ultimately the reason why we won today because if you look at the average stint pace of the three guys, that was the difference.”
***It was nearly a 1-2 finish for the pair of Proton Competition-run Porsches, but a late stop for a drive-time snafu for the No. 78 KCMG entry of Joel Camathias, Christian Ried and Wolf Henzler, who pitted with eight minutes to go to put Camathias back in the car, resulted in a third place class finish.
***RGR Sport’s LMP2 class win stole the local headlines, with Portuguese ace Filipe Albuquerque holding off a hard-charging Nicolas Lapierre to claim victory for the Mexican squad on home soil. “Maybe Bruno [Senna] and I will get a Mexican passport!” Albuquerque joked in the post-race press conference, referencing to the significance of the win for the Gonzalez-owned team.
***The No. 31 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Nissan scored its fourth LMP2 class podium in five races, in unlikely circumstances, after contact from the No. 6 Toyota of Mike Conway sent Chris Cumming into the wall in the second hour. Cumming and co-drivers Pipo Derani and Ryan Dalziel tumbled down the order but a charge from Dalziel, along with brake failure for the then class-leading No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 Nissan, put ESM third in the end.
***While there was a higher level of car-to-car contact than a typical WEC round, drivers were overall pleased with the behavior in the race. “I think everyone dealt with it very well,” overall winner Brendon Hartley said. “Everyone in the GT or LMP showed a lot of respect and I really didn’t think it was as big an issue as what people thought it was going to be.”
***Adrian Fernandez served as grand marshal of the event, waving the green flag at the start of the formation lap. The Mexican racing legend hasn’t driven competitively since his partial WEC season effort with Aston Martin Racing in 2012, in a Vantage GTE.
***The reported attendance for the event was 38,000 people. Grandstands were nearly full on race day, with the majority of enthusiastic spectators staying through the rain to witness WEC’s first historic trip to Mexico.