Porsche has again capitalized on Audi’s misfortunes to claim victory in Saturday’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas.
Timo Bernhard took the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid to its third consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship win of the season, benefiting from a well-timed Full Course Yellow and multiple issues for the pace-setting Audis.
The pair of Audi R18s dominated the first half of the day-into-night race, with the diesel-powered LMP1 hybrids stretching out to a one-minute-plus lead in the hot and humid conditions.
However, Audi’s hope of victory began to crumble in the third hour, when the No. 8 car of Loic Duval lost 45 seconds when it stopped on track with electrical issues.
It handed the lead to the pole-sitting sister No. 7 Audi, until Brendon Hartley capitalized on the race’s third Full Course Yellow with 2 hours and 7 minutes to go to pit, when the others had previously come in for service under green.
The advantage put Bernhard 20 seconds ahead of Benoit Treluyer, until contact between the Frenchman and the No. 66 Ford GT sent the Audi into the Turn 18 barriers with 1 hour and 40 minutes remaining.
Treluyer’s accident cost the No. 7 car more than six laps in the garage for repairs, en route to a sixth place finish overall.
Bernhard crossed the line 23.641 seconds ahead of the No. 8 Audi of Lucas Di Grassi, which managed to get around the No. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid for second in the final 90 minutes.
The win for Bernhard, Hartley and Mark Webber was Porsche’s fifth win out of six races this season and sees the German manufacturer extend its lead in the World Championship.
Di Grassi edged out Stephane Sarrazin at the line for second, with the championship-leading No. 2 Porsche of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb finishing one lap behind in fourth.
LMP2 saw a dominant performance from Signatech Alpine to claim its fourth class win in the last five races, with Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and American Gustavo Menenzes.
Menezes, on home soil, took the No. 36 Alpine A460 Nisan to a one-lap victory over the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Filipe Albuquerque, Bruno Senna and Ricardo Gonzalez in second.
The No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 Nissan, which started from the rear of the 31-car field, completed the class podium in third after its first trouble-free run in three races.
A late pass from Maurizio Mediani on the No. 31 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Nissan of Ryan Dalziel saw SMP Racing score a season-best fourth place class finish for its No. 27 BR Engineering BR01 Nissan.
LMP1 Privateer honors, meanwhile, went to the No. 13 Rebellion R-One AER of Alexandre Imperatori, Matheo Tuscher and Dominik Kraihamer, in seventh overall.
RESULTS: Six Hours of COTA