The Porsche LMP1 Team put on a commanding display today during the 6 Hours of Mexico Presented by AT&T, with the No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber taking their third win of the season after a textbook race.
The victory, which was Bernhard and Hartley’s second win in a row in Mexico, saw the trio extend their points lead to 41, with four races remaining in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship campaign.
In second place at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was the No.1 Porsche of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy. They stayed with the sister 919 Hybrid in the first phase of the race but lost momentum when they had to serve a drive through penalty after Nick Tandy was adjudged to have gone over the pit lane speed limit.
The pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 HYBRID LMP1 cars struggled to match the Porsches’ pace in the high altitude this weekend and had to settle for third position with the No.8 car of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima. José-Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway were third for the majority of the race but came home in fourth place after a late unscheduled pit stop.
LMP2 had everyone on the edge of their seats, with the No.31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07 Gibson of Julien Canal, Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna finally taking the chequered flag 25 seconds ahead of the No.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 Gibson of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and André Negrão.
It was the Vaillante Rebellion Team’s first win in LMP2 after 3 podiums so far this year and was hard-earned after a final surge from the CEFC Manor TRS Racing car driven by Ben Hanley.
A spin in the dying moments of the race for Hanley, who as a result came home third, relieved some pressure from Senna, who himself survived a rotation to take his second consecutive victory at the Mexican track.
LMP2 points leaders, the No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing crew of Ho-Pin Tung, Thomas Laurent and Oliver Jarvis suffered their first disappointment of the season after debris got into their clutch mechanism and triggered a long pit stop. They were eventually classified in ninth position in LMP2 and saw their points advantage reduced to 23 points.
The manufacturer-led LMGTE Pro class was won by the No.95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen, the Danish duo taking their first victory of the 2017 season and a second consecutive win in Mexico for the British manufacturer.
The Aston Martin had a tough, race-long duel with the No.71 Ferrari 458 GTE of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird who had started from pole position. The AF Corse Ferrari crossed the finish line first but had a penalty of 10s added to its result for a speeding infringement under a Full Course Yellow caution period. They were classified second in class, 9.1 seconds behind the Aston Martin and the result was good enough to keep Ferrari in the lead of the GT Manufacturers World Championship.
Third in LMGTE Pro was the No.91 Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki who battled through to take their fourth podium of the season, and in 4th was the No.67 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. The result keeps the British driver pairing at the top of the GT Drivers World Championship standings.
The course didn’t run so smoothly for some of the other LMGTE Pro competitors, with the No.51 Ferrari and No.66 Ford GT coming together several times and contact between the No.92 Porsche and a LMGTE Am competitor knocking it out of contention early on. The No.66 Ford served no fewer than three penalties during the race, eventually finishing 8th and last in class.
Aston Martin Racing’s delight at winning helped to temper the disappointment of the No.97 entry of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra who suffered repeated and unresolved brake issues. The time spent in the pits meant that the car was not classified in the final results.
LMGTE Am was a Porsche v Aston Martin battle throughout and it was the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR of Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst who crossed the line to take their second consecutive class victory this year. The result gives the German/Italian line up a 10-point lead over the Aston Martin Racing trio in the standings.
The No.98 Aston Martin trio of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda placed second after leading earlier in the race, while Gulf Racing took its first podium of the season as Ben Barker, Mike Wainwright and Nick Foster completed their best race of the 2017 season to date.
Heavy showers had been expected in the closing stages of the race, but in the end there were only a few spots of rain in the final 30 minutes which didn’t affect any of the results.
Next stop on the 2017 calendar will be Circuit of The Americas in two weeks for Lone Star Le Mans on Saturday 16th September.
Images and words from the FIA WEC