With the sun still shining over the Northamptonshire circuit, the last 60 minutes proved the usual down to the wire ending that has became unanimous with the WEC championship.
Heading into the final hour the No. 2 Porsche driven by Neal Jani had a 54 second lead over the second placed Audi of Marcel Fassler but the Porsche was still to pit.
Jani pitted the Porsche on lap 161, and with only changing 2 tyres rather than 4 came out only 6 seconds behind the Fassler Audi. But only a lap later Jani brought the No. 2 Porsche back into the pits with a front puncture, this then handing Audi almost a 50 second lead advantage.
Meanwhile, Filipe Albuquerque was leading the LMP2 class in the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier, with the AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon heading LMGTE Pro and the 83 AF Corse Ferrari of François Perrodo heading up the LMGTE Am class.
With 36 minutes to go Marcel brought the Audi No. 7 in for its final pit stop. That gave them a 7 second lead over the second placed Porsche - yep, down to the wire as usual!
Then disaster for the No. 97 Aston Martin of Richie Stanaway and Fernando Rees with an engine blow up coming down the old pit straight with 24 minutes left of the race.
Heading into the final ten minutes Audi were still leading from Porsche by just under 10 seconds, anything Jani could do Marcel could equal. But then, as was suspected, the No. 2 of Jani came in for a splash and dash to wry smiles coming from the Audi garage.
And then it appeared, after six hours of racing the chequered flag dropped and the first points of the season went to the Ingolstadt team of Audi Sport Team Joest. Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer were back up on the top spot of the podium, one wonders what the brand new R18 will deliver for the rest of the season.
Roll on Spa…
Class winners (unofficial)
LMP1 – No. 7 Audi of Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer
LMP2 – No. 43 Ligier of Gonzalez, Albuquerque and Senna
LMGTE Pro – No. 71 AF Corse of Rigon and Bird