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Sorensen: Tire Approach Key to Aston’s GTE-Pro Win

Tire strategy became a key element of the GTE-Pro fight at Circuit of The Americas…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Aston Martin

Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas GTE-Pro class winner Marco Sorensen felt that he and Nicki Thiim’s approach to tire management was key to them claiming their third win of the season.

The No. 95 Aston Martin Racing pair extended their lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship GT standings courtesy of a controlling drive from pole position.

Sorensen told Sportscar365 that he and Thiim carefully considered their tire strategy for the COTA race and needed to anticipate the different plans of their class rivals.

“When I was done with my double stint in the middle of the race, I was quite sure that we had the pace to win and everything was working really well, but they always came back somehow,” said Sorensen.

“They always gained a lot of time in some areas and we definitely have to look at that, but it’s so hard to know what other people are doing in this series.

“You could see that with the different cars, some of them dropped off now and then. When they tried to double-stint, it looked like they overdid their tires a bit.

“That was in my mind when I saw Nicki’s first two stints, to not go out and kill the tires.

“Sometimes it’s better not to go out and do a quick lap in the beginning; it’s better to give yourself a lap time and try to stick to it. We did that and it was a good performance all-round.”

Sorensen added that the Aston felt strong all weekend and that it was well-suited to COTA, which had been repaved in certain sections ahead of the WEC’s visit.

“The tires lasted longer here with the new asphalt, so it was easy to do some extra stints on the tires and only change one side,” he explained.

“It’s the first time that I’ve driven this car and can say after the race that I’ve been completely happy with the setup and how it was driving.

“I’ve never driven the car in a race where it was this well-balanced.”

Runner-up Kevin Estre, who shared the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 with Michael Christensen, felt an alternative approach to tire use was required for the German team to have any chance of challenging Aston for the win.

The Porsche squad went for a different pit strategy early on by single-stinting its first set of Michelin tires while the majority of the field double-stinted to start with.

At the end, Christensen came up just four seconds short of Thiim since the Porsche took fuel only at its final stop while the Aston had tires fitted, which enabled the No. 92 car to close the gap by around 7 seconds.

“It was very difficult,” Estre told Sportscar365.

“We were on a different strategy to pretty much everybody for the whole race.

“We had new tires when they put on left sides only, so it was difficult. But then I could pass on my new tire stint and we pulled out something with the strategy to stay ahead of [the No. 97 car].

“It was definitely a hard race and the No. 95 was quicker, so they deserved the win. We just have to work harder and see what Sebring brings.”

Estre explained that one outcome of Porsche’s strategy call was that it always placed the No. 92 in situations of direct combat.

“When we were on our double stint the others were on their singles, so we were always coming back and we always had to fight,” he said.

“It was not ideal because sometimes we lost some time doing that, but we finished second and definitely not with the fastest car this weekend so it’s still good.

“Sebring is [worth] more points so let’s see if our car is better there. It’s a more complicated track than here, so we will see if we have a car to fight for the victory.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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