Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: FIA WEC /Adrenal Media
In the week after the announcement that Rebellion will leave the WEC at the end of this season, the Swiss squad climbed the top step of the podium for the second time this season. After their victory two races ago in Shanghai, they were victorious at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Both GT classes were won by Aston Martins.
After their Pole Position on Saturday, the Rebellion crew also dominated on Sunday. Leading the race from the start, Menezes, Nato and Senna only had to give up the lead during their pitstops. Toyota could only follow, clearly suffering from their success handicaps. In the end, the #8 with Brendon Hartley, Kaz Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi finished 51 seconds behind the Rebellion. The #7, still championship leaders after the 6h of CotA, came in 2 laps down. José Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi now have 112 points, followed by Hartley, Nakajima and Buemi with 107 and Senna, Menezes and Nato with 93. There are three races to go: Sebring, Spa and of course the final at Le Mans.
Class victory in LMP2 went to the United Autosports Oreca for the second time in a row. Continuing their good form after their win in the 8h of Bahrain, they recovered from early handling issues forcing them to an off-sequence pitstop after nearly two hours. Will Stevens, Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry followed at 24 seconds in the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca prepared by JOTA Sport. The other JOTA entry in the Goodyear livery took the last podium step. A good result for new tire manufacturer Goodyear with 2 cars on the podium. Racing Team Nederland, where last years' GP2 champion Nyck de Vries returned in the car, saw a strong first half of the race unrewarded. They were thrown back in the second part by a small spin and handling issues.
The honors in GT Pro were a prey for the Aston Martin squad. Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen in the #95 managed to stay ahead of the #92 Porsche 911 by only 4.2 seconds. The Manthey-ran RSR was never more than a couple of seconds away in the second part of the race. In the end, the race was a couple laps too short to reel in the #95. In the first part of the race, the #95 was backed by its sister car the #97 with Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin at the wheel, but Porsche managed to split the two with the Estre and Christensen driven car. James Calado had a great final stint in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 and even managed to snatch the final podium spot from the #97 Vantage. And so, the podium consisted of three different manufacturers. Chevrolet, with the brand new C8.R, ran trouble-free the whole race but finished 3 laps behind.
In GT Am, the race consisted of two parts. The first part was dominated by the pole sitting #56 Project 1 Porsche. Egidio Perfetti, Laurents Hörr and Matteo Cairoli were forced to hand over the lead to the #90 TF Sport Vantage early in second part. Charlie Eastwood, Salih Yoluc and Jonny Adam were swiftly followed by the #98. At the last round of pitstops, Darren Turner, accompanied by teammates Paul Dalla Lana and Ross Gunn, managed to squeeze his Aston in front of the #90, but the race lasted a couple of laps too long to maintain the lead. And so, TF Sport secured its third win of the season. Last race winners Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga suffered a gear box problem and finished last. The championship is really close as leaders Collard, Perrodo and Nielsen only finished 4th. Only 12 points separate them from Keating and Bleekemolen in p4.
Full race highlights: