The chain of wins continues for Porsche as Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard claimed their second win in a row after a dramatic turn of fate at the Six Hours of COTA.
The #17 was untouchable over the course of the first three hours of the race until Mark Webber overshot his pit stall just past the half way mark which cost the team seven seconds as Timo Bernhard climbed aboard. Bernhard initially picked up the pace and made up some of the lost time but with just 2 hours and 11 minutes remaining was given a one minute stop and go penalty.
That handed the lead over to the sister car of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb who continued Porsche’s flawless performance as the race entered its final hours.
It was all in the bag for the #18 as the race entered its final hour until the #18 suddenly pulled into pit road and was wheeled into the garage with an electrical failure with just 33 minutes remaining which suddenly lifted Hartley back to the lead with just one pitstop remaining.
Hartley finished off his final stint and crossed the line with 1 minute and 6 seconds to bag the third win of the season for Porsche.
Bad luck for the #18 Porsche lifted Audi to a 2-3 finish with Andre Lotterer carrying the flag in second place with a magnificent final stint where he charged from fourth to second during the final hour to keep the points lead in the driver’s championship.
In LMP2, it was all about G-Drive Racing as Sam Bird wheeled the #26 Liger JS P2 to the team’s first win since Silverstone.
Bird held a sizable lead over the #47 KCMG entry of Nicolas Lapierre coming into the final hour of the race and his win was all but sealed as Lapierre was assessed a penalty in the race’s final minutes, ending hopes for what would have been a come from behind win for he and co drivers Matthew Howson and Richard Bradley as they were forced to start from the back of the grid.
Porsche had two reasons to smile as Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen led a 1-2 finish for Porsche Team Manthey.
The #92 of Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki led a majority of the race until the round of driver changes during the fifth hour. The stop for the #91’s switch from Christensen to Lietz proved to be quicker than the switch from Pilet to Makowiecki, which gave them the boost that they needed.
After a flip-flop back to Pilet and Christensen during the final hour, Christensen retook the lead and stretched the gap back to 7.768 seconds.
In GTE-AM, SMP Racing claimed top honors for the third weekend in a row with a mix of good luck and brilliant driving by Victor Shaytar and Andrea Bertolini.
The race came to life in the Pro-Am class in the fifth hour as AF Corse’s Francois Perrodo swallowed up pole sitter Patrick Dempesy’s and built up a large lead of his own. Meanwhile, Bertolini roared to life and chomped 20 seconds out of the lead that Perrodo built up and handed the car over to Shaytar.
In a twist of fate, #28 had a battery issue as Perrodo switched over to Rui Aguas on his final pitstop which then allowed Shaytar to pick up the lead which he never lost.