Porsche has claimed victory in another team orders-inflicted outcome in Saturday’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas.
Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard extended their lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship with their fourth consecutive victory, with Bamber crossing the line 0.276 seconds ahead of teammate Nick Tandy in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
It came after Tandy relinquished a nearly ten-second lead with eight minutes to go, letting the Kiwi around on the outside heading into Turn 1 for the position.
The gap remained nip-and-tuck to the finish, in the closest margin of victory of the season.
It, however, marked the third consecutive race team orders were enacted, denying Tandy and co-drivers Andre Lotterer and reigning World Champion Neel Jani a sure-fire win.
While Porsche scored another 1-2 sweep, it came in one of the hardest-fought races of the season, with Toyota surprisingly mounting a near race-long challenge to the German manufacturer in the heat-impacted race.
Kazuki Nakajima led early, courtesy of a split strategy from the two LMP1 manufacturers that saw the Toyota TS050 Hybrids double stint its Michelin tires in the opening stint and Porsche opt to change tires on the first stop.
The No. 8 Toyota remained in contention throughout, with Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin, subbing for Anthony Davidson, finishing only 21 seconds behind the winning Porsche in third.
Toyota’s sister No. 7 entry was a further 23 seconds back in fourth, but handed a 10-second post-race time penalty for contact between Kamui Kobayashi and the No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson of Jean-Eric Vergne.
Nearly all drivers in the race single-stinted, due to 90-plus degree Fahrenheit ambient temperatures, which enacted an 80-minute maximum driver stint length rule.
Signatech Alpine Matmut broke through to claim its first LMP2 class victory of the season, in dominant fashion, although with some late-race drama.
Gustavo Menezes, the only American in the race, claimed a 30.337-second win over the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson, despite having to pit to replace a broken left-rear tail light in the final ten minutes.
Menezes pitted with a one-minute lead for the stop, which saw the French squad replace the rear deck.
He shared top class honors with Nico Lapierre and Andre Negrao, who scored his first career WEC victory.
The No. 31 Rebellion Oreca completed the class podium in third, ahead of the class championship-leading No 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca trio of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent.
A number of LMP2 cars hit trouble in the weather-affected race, including the No. 25 Manor Oreca, which retired with mechanical issues and lengthy visits to the garage for both the No. 26 G-Drive Racing and No. 28 TDS Racing entries.
RESULTS: 6H COTA