Saturday 16 September 2017

FIA WEC 2017 - 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas: Porsche on pole again in Texas

Just as Mexico two weeks ago, Porsche took another clean sweep in LMP1 qualifying on the Circuit of the Americas this afternoon.

A last minute flyer from Nick Tandy secured pole position for the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of the Englishman and Neel Jani. Tandy saw his first flying lap cancelled due to exceeding track limits, dropping the #1 down to fourth overall, but squeezed out an astonishing final lap on the same set of tires Jani used. Their average time of 1.44.741 was 0.253 seconds faster than Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber in the #2 Porsche.  

Although Toyota was fastest in this mornings final free practice session, and seemed to have picked up some of the pace, they were nowhere near Porsche's qualifying times this afternoon.  The #8 TS050 of Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima qualified third fastest, but already on a respectable distance of 1.659 seconds behind Jani & Tandy. The #7 Toyota was 2.3 seconds off the average pace of the leading Porsche. 

Nicolas Lapierre secured pole position for the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Oreca 07 for the second time in a row. With an average time of 1.54.024, Lapierre and Negrao held off Matthias Beche and David Henemeier-Hansson in the #13 Vaillante Rebellion with 0.251 seconds. The #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent was third fastest, just 0.040 seconds slower than the Rebellion. Completing the top 5 were the second Vaillante Rebellion (#31) and the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca's, all within 1 seconds from Lapierre & Negrao. 

In GTE Pro it's Ferrari on pole, with Davide Rigon & Sam Bird taking their third pole position of the season in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F488. In the Texas heat both Ferrari drivers drove their laps on the same set of tires and put in an average time of 2.03.075. Second fastest were Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK GT, only 0.199 seconds behind the Ferrari. The Dane train #95 Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen was third fastest this afternoon. Rounding out the top 5 are the #66 Ford GT and #97 Aston Martin. 

Both Porsche 911's set the slowest average times, over 1.2 seconds behind the leading Ferrari. The German team decided not to change to a new set of tires during qualifying which gives them an additional fresh set of rubber for the race on Saturday. As always the GTE qualifs were very close with the first 6 cars and 12 drivers within one second from eachother. 

Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy secured their fifth (out of six) pole position in the GTE-Am class this afternoon, scoring an average time of 2.06.031 in the #98 Aston Martin Vantage. Dalla Lana's fastest lap was very impressive, beating all other gentleman drivers with at least 2 seconds. The #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari will be second on the grid tomorrow, qualifying 1.172 seconds behind the leading Aston. The #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari of Weng Sun Mok and Matt Griffin will start from third place tomorrow. 

Race start will be given at 12h00 tomorrow local time, which is 18h in the UK and 19h on the European mainland. 

Free Practice 3 

Earlier today Toyota topped the timetable in the final 60 minute practice session. Sébastien Buemi was fastest overall in his #8 Toyota TS050 in 1.45.712. Both Porsche 919 Hybrids followed on a distance, the #2 was 1.7 seconds behind, the #1 0.5 seconds further. Matthieu Vaxivière was the fastest LMP2 driver this morning, setting a 1.54.541 in the clock which put him just 0.041 seconds ahead Alex Brundle in the #38 and the #24 Manor on third place. 

In GTE Pro it was Olivier Pla who beat all other drivers in his #66 Ford GT. His lap of 2.02.987 was 0.748 seconds faster than both AF Corse Ferrari's; the #51 on second place and the #71 on third. Pedro Lamy continued to be the fastest driver overall in the GTE Am class with his #98 Aston Martin, going round in 2.04.941. Like in the Pro class, 2 Ferrari's were second and third fastest with the #54 Spirit of Race and the #61 Clearwater Racing. 

Kristof Vermeulen.