When you think of Mexico things like tequila, sombreros’ and scorching sun spring to mind. Whilst there was plenty of the first two, the sun was nowhere to be seen as the dark grey clouds filled the skies above the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the inaugural round of the FIA WEC 6hrs of Mexico. With light sprinkles of rain, to full on showers, conditions were challenging but the Mexicans love their motorsport, and with plenty of locals to cheer on they were in for a treat!
Securing their second win in a row was the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley, finishing over a minute ahead of the #7 Audi R18 of Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer. Stéphane Sarrazin in the #6 Toyota TS050 chased down the Audi to come within 9 seconds crossing the line in third place.
Picture credit: Porsche Motorsport
For Audi fans there was good news that Benoît Tréluyer confirmed he would return to the #7 for COTA having taken time out to recover from a back injury sustained in a recent mountain biking accident.
BUT, taking the top spot of the podium in the LMP2 class, and finishing 6th overall, was local hero and one of those responsible for bringing WEC to Mexico Ricardo Gonzalez, Filipe Albuquerque and Bruno Senna in the RGR Sport by Morand Ligier JS P2 sending the crowd into a frenzy!
The G-Drive of René Rast, Roman Rusinov and Alex Brundle looked all set to win but a brake failure in the final hour dropped them out of contention, promoting the RGR Ligier to first after the championship-leading #36 Signatech Alpine of Gustavo Meneze, Stéphane Richelmi and Nicolas Lapierre were issued a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement. Lapierre finished 1.9 seconds behind Albuquerque after a late surge. Extreme Speed Motorsports #31 of Ryan Dalziel, Luis Felipe Derani and Christoper Cumming took the last podium position 3 laps down.
LMGTE Pro saw an Aston Ferrari Aston podium, with the #97 of Richie Stanaway and Darren Turner taking their first win of 2016 finishing 9.4 seconds ahead of the Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado #51 Ferrari 488 GTE. The sister Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen was a further 8 seconds down the road, all the more impressive given Thiim crashed at turn 6! Porsche and Ford were never really in a position to win their class with the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche sixth and #67 Ganassi Ford fifth.
Picture credit: Aston Martin Racing
The Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche of Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Pat Long secured the LMGTE Am win after an intense battle with the #83 AF Corse Ferrari of François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas and the KCMG Porsche of Christian Ried, Wolf Henzler and Joël Camathias.
In 12 days time we find the WEC family swapping sombreros for stetsons as the pack head to Austin Texas for the 6hrs of the Circuit of the Americas. Will Porsche make it a ‘hat’-trick!