COTA - A Hat-trick for Porsche

Porsche #1 took their third consecutive win around the Circuit of the Americas, bringing themselves back into a Championship battle they had long looked out of.

The #8 Audi came home in second in another race weekend that should have been dominated by Audi, whilst the #6 Toyota squad picked up another third-place finish. LMP2 saw Signatech Alpine extending their championship lead with three rounds left, adding another win to their campaign. The RGR Sport #43 made another podium appearance, finishing second, whilst a brilliant recovery drive from the #26 G-Drive took them to the final step of the podium. For the second race in a row, Aston Martin converted pole position to the race win in GTE-Pro, the #95 Aston Martin taking the top step of the podium. They were followed home by the #51 and #71 AF Corse Ferraris in second and third. GTE-Am class honours went to the Aston Martin #98, the #76 KCMG and the #50 Larbe Competition finished off podium.

It was a race that Audi looked set to win. They dominated in practice and qualifying and completed the second hour of the race with a 40 second advantage. The #7 R18 of Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer led from pole position but lost out in the pit window at the half way mark, the #8 car took the lead and pushed on. Meanwhile further back, Porsche were under attack from Toyota in what was arguably their most promising race of the season. They frequently out lapped the Porsche’s with stunning drives from Sarrazin and Buemi.

It was all change however as the sun set over Austin.

Loic Duval suffered a complete loss of electronics just after the half way mark. A full system re-set saw the car get going again but they lost a lot of time in the process which saw the #7 take the lead and the gap to the #1 Porsche shrink dramatically. Whilst passing back markers though, #7 Audi was clipped by the #66 Ford GT and hit the wall. They car dropped 3 laps before it could be extracted from the gravel.

Hartley was on a charge and managed to cut the gap to the lead Audi to just 5 seconds before the next full course yellow was launched to recover Stefan Mucke from the gravel trap in the #66 Ford.

Toyota put up an early fight but were quickly outpaced by the Audis and Porsches as the temperature fell and night closed in. Turbo issues for the #5 took them out of the race early on.

The #36 Alpine continued its dominant performance with another win after a hard fought battle with Manor early on. The #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier took second place in the hands of Senna, Gonzalez and Albuquerque with #26 G-Drive taking third after an impressive drive from Brundle, Rast and Rusinov saw the car climb the pack from the back of the grid. The car failed to qualify and started at the very back, Brundle set off like a rocket, calving his way through the field in the opening stint. By the second hour, the car was in contention for the podium.

It was another lights to flag victory for the #95 Aston, the Dane Train taking a comfortable win over the the two AF Corse Ferraris in second and third, Bruni and Calado crossed the line just 12 seconds down.

The Am class saw the same sort of dominance for the lead as the #98 Aston Martin collected the second GTE victory. Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, and Paul Dalla Lana finished just over a minute clear of the second-place finishers, KCMG. Lamy did not havae the best start to the race and Dalla Lana had a spin with just over an hour to go, but this just shows how much can be gained from the full-course yellows if they happen at the right time for teams.

Photograph Marius Hecker -