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2016 6 Hours of Silverstone

Track layout of the Silverstone Circuit

The 2016 6 Hours of Silverstone was an endurance sports car racing event held at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire, England on 15–17 April 2016. Silverstone served as the opening round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, and was the fifth running of the event as part of the championship. 52,000 people attended the race weekend.

Audi's No. 7 car of André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer won the pole position and maintained their advantage on the race's first lap. Lotterer initially pulled away from the field but lost the lead to Mark Webber in Porsche's No. 1 car who remained in the position. Co-driver Brendon Hartley remained in first until he retired following heavy contact with Michael Wainwright in the No. 86 Gulf Racing car. This handed the lead to Neel Jani in the sister No. 2 car, but it switched again to Tréluyer when Jani's co-driver Marc Lieb was delayed by a slower vehicle. Although he was challenged by Lieb after being blocked by slower cars Tréluyer pulled away from him and the No. 7 Audi maintained its advantage over the No. 2 Porsche for the majority of the remainder of the event to finish the race first. However the No. 7 Audi was disqualified when scrutineers discovered that its front skid block was worn out by more than the regulations allowed for, handing the victory to Lieb, Jani and Romain Dumas. Toyota No. 5 drivers Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi finished in second and Dominik Kraihamer, Alexandre Imperatori and Mathéo Tuscher came in third to secure Rebellion Racing's first podium in the series since 2013.

The Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) category was won by the No. 43 RGR Sport by Morand car of Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque and Ricardo González. Senna took the lead in the event's closing stages and earned him and Albuquerue their first World Endurance Championship class victories and González's fourth. Sam Bird and Davide Rigon in the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari were unchallenged throughout the race and took the victory in the Le Mans Grand Touring Professional (LMGTE Pro) class ahead of their teammates Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado in the sister Ferrari who served a three-minute stop-and-go penalty for an engine change after qualifying. The Le Mans Grand Touring Amateur (LMGTE Am) category was led throughout the final stages by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Águas who won their first race of the season in the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari with a one-lap advantage over the second-placed No. 98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy.

The result meant Lieb, Jani and Dumas became the leaders of the Drivers' Championship with 25 points, seven ahead of their nearest rivals Sarrazin, Conway and Kobayashi, and a further three in front of Kraihamer, Imperatori and Piquet. Their teammates Nico Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Nelson Piquet Jr. were fourth on 12 points with Senna, Albuquerque and González rounding out the top five with ten points. Toyota claimed the Manufacturers' Championship lead with 33 points, eight ahead of their rival Porsche in second; the third-placed manufacturer Audi had scored one point with eight races left in the season.

BackgroundEdit

EntrantsEdit

 
Nelson Piquet Jr. (pictured in 2015) replaced Mathias Beche for the season's first three rounds.

Thirty-three cars were officially entered for the 6 Hours of Silverstone with the bulk of the entries in Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) and Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2). The 2015 race winners, Audi Sport Team Joest, returned to defend their title. Three manufacturers, Porsche, Toyota and Audi Sport Team Joest, were represented in LMP1 by two cars each. Rebellion Racing and ByKolles Racing were the two representatives of the LMP1 privateer teams.[1] Super Formula and Super GT driver James Rossiter returned to sports car racing in the No. 4 Rebellion Racing entry, replacing Pierre Kaffer who had other motor racing commitments for the season's first two races.[2] 2014–15 Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr. took over from Mathias Beche and joined fellow racers Nick Heidfeld and Nico Prost in Rebellion Racing's No. 12 car for the season's first three rounds.[3] LMP2 consisted of 11 cars with 32 drivers in five different types of chassis.[1] Manor made its début in the series at Silverstone with a two-car entry, fielding Will Stevens, James Jakes and Tor Graves in its first vehicle,[4] along with Matt Rao, Richard Bradley and Roberto Merhi in the team's second entry.[1] David Markozov was scheduled to take part at Silverstone in the No. 27 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 car but was unable to participate because of family problems.[5]

The Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Professional (LMGTE Pro) field consisted of four manufacturers (Aston Martin, Ford, Ferrari and Porsche), while the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Amateur (LMGTE Am) entrants were six teams: Aston Martin Racing, AF Corse, KCMG, Larbre Compétition, Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing and Gulf Racing.[1] Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entered the series, fielding two full-time Ford GT vehicles driven by Andy Priaulx, Marino Franchitti, Harry Tincknell in its No. 67 entry and Olivier Pla, Stefan Mücke and Billy Johnson behind the wheel of the No. 66 car.[6] Patrick Long was committed to participating in the Pirelli World Challenge event on the Streets of Long Beach and was replaced by Klaus Bachler in the No. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, joining the team's regular drivers David Heinemeier Hansson and Khaled Al Qubaisi.[7] Gulf Racing made their first appearance in the series with 2008–09 A1 Grand Prix driver Adam Carroll, Porsche Supercup podium finisher Ben Barker and the team's co-founder Michael Wainwright.[8]

PreviewEdit

The 6 Hours of Silverstone was confirmed as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship's 2016 schedule in December 2015 at a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris.[9] It was the first of nine scheduled endurance sports car rounds of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship,[9] and the fifth running of the event as part of the championship.[1] The race was held on 17 April 2016 at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire, England with two preceding days of practice and qualifying.[9] The Silverstone Circuit is a race track that is 5.891 kilometres (3.660 mi) long and is composed of 18 corners in varying degrees of sharpness, ranging from gentle sweeping turns to one sharp hairpin.[10]

Heading into the new season, co-defending World Endurance champion Mark Webber stated Porsche's performance advantage over their two main rivals could possibly disappear at Silverstone but felt the team could successfully retain the drivers' and manufacturers' titles. He said his team's expectations were ambitious. Although Webber was aware of the tight opposition he was confident that Porsche could fight well: "We have a very stable concept, let’s say, so it’s very well known for us. We of course want to aim for another win at Le Mans and win the championships, so the goals are very, very high."[11] Audi No. 8 co-driver Lucas di Grassi believed that Toyota's new chassis, the TS050 Hybrid, would allow its drivers to run at the front of the field after they experienced a difficult 2015 season: "I expect them to make a big step, because they have changed the engine and the hybrid system. They are a good team, they won the championship in 2014. They will be strong."[12]

PracticeEdit

 
Romain Dumas (pictured in 2014) beached his car in the turn seven gravel trap in the second practice session.

Three practice sessions—two on Friday and a third on Saturday—were scheduled to run before the Sunday race. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions lasted 90 minutes; the third, one-hour session was held on Saturday morning.[1] The first session was held on a wet track from earlier morning rain and lap times reduced as the 90-minute period progressed due to the track drying out. No incidents were reported.[13] Timo Bernhard in the No. 1 Porsche led the practice session in its final minutes with a lap time of 1 minute and 42.182 seconds, eight-tenths of a second faster than Marc Lieb in the sister entry. René Rast in G-Drive Racing's No. 26 Oreca 05 Nissan led LMP2 with a fastest lap of 1 minute and 51.617 seconds set in the session's final 15 minutes. The No. 51 AF Corse car driven by Gianmaria Bruni was fastest in LMGTE Pro while Rui Águas in the sister team's No. 83 entry helped the Italian marque to be the fastest vehicle in LMGTE Am.[13]

In the second practice session, which took place in dry weather conditions for most of the 90-minute period and became wet when rain fell in the closing stages which prevented any drivers from improving on their fastest times, Brendon Hartley in Porsche's No. 1 car set an early lap time of 1 minute and 39.655 seconds which remained the fastest time for the remainder of the session.[14] He was 1.6 seconds quicker than Romain Dumas in the team's No. 2 entry, who in turn, was two-tenths of a second faster than Loïc Duval in the No. 8 Audi.[15] A LMGTE car impacted Dumas, causing him to spin into the turn seven gravel trap, and sustained damage to his car's right-rear tyre, causing the deployment of a full course yellow flag. He was extracted from the gravel trap and drove back to the pit lane for car repairs.[15] Jonny Kane in the No. 36 Signatech Alpine was the fastest driver in LMP2 with a 1 minute and 49.632 seconds set lap in the session's closing minutes,[14] nearly one-tenth of a second in front of Jakes. LMGTE Pro was led by James Calado in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, while Carroll's Gulf Racing car was fastest in LMGTE Am, despite driving off the track in the session's closing minutes.[16]

The third (and final) practice session started with a morning sleet shower and Anthony Davidson in Toyota's No. 5 entry drove off the circuit at Luffield turn. Davidson later aquaplaned backwards off the track and into the Chapel corner gravel trap. The session was stopped to allow the stricken Toyota to be extracted from the gravel trap and it was able to return to the pit lane with assistance from a recovery crane, allowing on-track action to recommence.[17][18] Sleet later turned to snow necessitating track officials to stop the session for the second time.[19] Driver adviser Yannick Dalmas was asked to assess the track's condition during the stoppage and gave feedback that prompted the session's premature end with half an hour remaining.[17] Eleven cars took to the track but nobody recorded a timed lap.[19] Tincknell completed the most out-laps of any driver in the session with three.[20]

QualifyingEdit

 
André Lotterer (pictured in 2012) helped secure Audi's first World Endurance Championship pole position since 2013.

Saturday's late afternoon qualification session was divided into two groups lasting 25 minutes each.[1] Cars in LMGTE Pro and AM were sent out first and, after a five-minute interval, LMP1 and LMP2 vehicles drove onto the track. All cars were required to be driven by two participants for one timed lap each and the starting order was determined by the competitor's fastest average times. The fastest qualifier was awarded one point which went towards the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships.[21] The session started on a wet track but dried out as it progressed.[22][23] André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler in the No. 7 Audi clinched the vehicle's first pole position of the season, and the team's first since the 2013 6 Hours of Fuji, with an average lap time of 1 minute and 53.204 seconds.[24] Manor's No. 44 car made contact with Fässler at the end of the session but both vehicles sustained no apparent damage.[25] It also ended Porsche's streak of 11 consecutive pole positions, extending back to the 2014 6 Hours of Shanghai.[23] They were joined on the grid's front row by the team's No. 8 sister entry.[24] Di Grassi recorded the fastest qualifying timed lap late in the session but went off the track heading into Vale corner while attempting to go faster. He went into the turn's gravel trap,[25] preventing him from achieving the pole position.[22] The two Porsche cars were third and fourth (the No. 1 vehicle in front of the No. 2 entry). Hartley was delayed by slower traffic on his final timed lap and believed he could have improved on his time.[26] Toyota's entrants had unsuitable car control settings and a different vehicle set-up, restricting to them to qualifying on the grid's third row (their No. 5 car ahead of the No. 6 entry).[27] Oliver Webb and Rossiter in the ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 and the two Rebellion Racing cars rounded out the LMP1 field;[24] Rebellion elected not to record any lap times.[23]

In LMP2, Rast used intermediate tyres before making a pit stop for full wet tyres and recorded a lap time of 2 minutes and 7.374 seconds which gave him and co-driver Roman Rusinov a pole-setting two-lap average time of two minutes and 8.479 seconds.[24] The two drivers were 1.1 seconds faster than the second-place class qualifier, the No. 31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 of Pipo Derani and Chris Cumming. Derani set the category's fastest individual lap which was 0.059 second's faster than Rast.[28] The No. 43 RGR Sport team qualified in third with both SMP Racing cars rounding out the top five LMP2 qualifiers.[25] Sam Bird and Davide Rigon, competing in the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari, were the fastest LMGTE Pro drivers with a two-lap average time of 2 minutes and 12.440 seconds.[22] They qualified 1.3 seconds in front of Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen in Dempsey-Proton Racing's No. 77 Porsche.[25] Mücke and Pla in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 66 car took third despite Pla going into the Stowe corner gravel trap late in the session.[22] Their sister No. 67 GT and the KCMG Porsche rounded out the top five class qualifiers.[24] Calado recorded a time of 2 minutes and 11.589 seconds, and, after Bruni got into the car, he was unable to record a lap time and returned to a pit lane with an engine bay technical issue and started from the back of the overall field.[23] Bachler and Khaled Al Qubaisi took the pole position in LMGTE Am, their first in the series,[23] 2.297 seconds ahead of the second-place qualifier, KCMG's No. 78 car.[25] Paolo Ruberti in Larbre Competition's No. 50 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R held the class pole position in the early part of the session but the team fell to third following the handover to co-driver Yutaka Yamagishi.[22]

Qualifying resultsEdit

Pole position winners in each class are indicated by  [29]

Pos Class Team Average Time Gap Grid
1 LMP1 No. 7 Audi Sport Team Joest 1:53.204 1  
2 LMP1 No. 8 Audi Sport Team Joest 1:53.308 +0.104 2
3 LMP1 No. 1 Porsche Team 1:54.150 +0.946 3
4 LMP1 No. 2 Porsche Team 1:54.266 +1.062 4
5 LMP1 No. 6 Toyota Racing 1:58.200 +4.996 5
6 LMP1 No. 5 Toyota Racing 2:00.109 +6.905 6
7 LMP1 No. 4 ByKolles Racing Team 2:08.322 +15.128 7
8 LMP2 No. 26 G-Drive Racing 2:08.479 +15.275 8  
9 LMP2 No. 31 Extreme Speed Motorsports 2:09.632 +16.428 9
10 LMP2 No. 43 RGR Sport by Morand 2:10.295 +17.091 10
11 LMP2 No. 27 SMP Racing 2:10.627 +17.423 11
12 LMP2 No. 37 SMP Racing 2:11.023 +17.819 12
13 LMP2 No. 45 Manor 2:11.893 +18.689 13
14 LMP2 No. 36 Signatech Alpine 2:12.221 +19.017 14
15 LMGTE Pro No. 71 AF Corse 2:12.440 +19.236 15  
16 LMP2 No. 44 Manor 2:13.105 +19.901 16
17 LMP2 No. 42 Strakka Racing 2:13.729 +20.525 17
18 LMGTE Pro No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing 2:13.822 +20.618 18
19 LMGTE Pro No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK 2:14.475 +21.271 19
20 LMP2 No. 35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine 2:14.863 +21.659 20
21 LMGTE Am No. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing 2:15.102 +21.898 21  
22 LMGTE Pro No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK 2:17.367 +24.163 22
23 LMGTE Am No. 78 KCMG 2:17.399 +24.195 23
24 LMGTE Am No. 50 Larbre Compétition 2:02.937 +25.140 24
25 LMGTE Am No. 86 Gulf Racing 2:19.084 +25.880 25
26 LMGTE Am No. 83 AF Corse 2:20.131 +26.927 26
27 LMP2 No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports 2:20.410 +27.206 27
28 LMGTE Pro No. 97 Aston Martin Racing 2:21.091 +27.887 28
29 LMGTE Pro No. 95 Aston Martin Racing 2:22.252 +29.048 29
30 LMGTE Am No. 98 Aston Martin Racing 2:23.005 +29.801 30
31 LMP1 No. 12 Rebellion Racing 2:08.322 +14.637 31
32 LMGTE Pro No. 51 AF Corse 2:11.589 +18.385 32
33 LMP1 No. 13 Rebellion Racing No Time 33

RaceEdit

Weather conditions at the start of the event were dry and sunny. The air temperature throughout the race was between 8.4 to 11.5 °C (47.1 to 52.7 °F) with a track temperature ranging from 6.6 to 14.5 °C (43.9 to 58.1 °F);[30][31] although conditions were expected to remain consistent throughout the race,[32] the possibility of a late rain shower was forecast.[30] 52,000 people attended the race weekend.[33] The race began at 12:00 British Summer Time (UTC+01:00) with actor Patrick Dempsey having the honour of waving the green flag.[34] Lotterer maintained his pole position advantage going into the first corner. Jarvis behind him held second place,[35] but came under pressure from Webber.[36] Derani immediately attacked Rusinov and moved to the lead of LMP2 after overtaking him under braking at Brooklands corner.[35] Sébastien Buemi overtook Toyota teammate Mike Conway to move into fifth place but the latter retook the position three minutes later.[36] Webber set the race's fastest lap so far, at one minute and 30.309 seconds,[35] to run one second behind Jarvis.[36] Jarvis was delayed by a slower car and Webber passed him for second. Jarvis then fended off a challenge from Dumas for third.[36] Lotterer used the battle to increase his advantage to five seconds while Stevens and Vitaly Petrov impacted each other while battling for fifth in LMP2.[35]

 
Brendon Hartley (pictured in 2014) held the No. 1 Porsche's lead until he retired because of heavy contact with Michael Wainwright.

Buemi moved back ahead of Conway in the battle for fifth,[36] while Lotterer was impeded by an LMP2 and LMGTE car at Becketts corner and Webber was delayed by the two vehicles at Stowe corner. Jarvis came across the two slower cars at Copse corner and narrowly held off an overtaking manoeuvre from Dumas. The Audi moved across the track at Becketts corner upon coming across more slower traffic.[35] Webber caught Lotterer and after closing up to him through Club corner. While lapping Rossiter, Webber moved to the front of the race heading into Abbey corner.[36] Webber began to pull away from Lotterer. Jarvis was delayed by Rossiter, allowing Dumas to attack but went into grass on the Wellington straight.[35] After making contact Bruno Senna overtook Rusinov driving into Maggots corner for second place in LMP2.[37] The first round of pit stops began after 37 minutes with Derani making a pit stop, promoting Senna into the LMP2 lead.[35] Jarvis was the first of the overall leaders to make a pit stop for fuel and tyres and was followed by teammate Lotterer one minute later. Dumas and both Toyota cars made stops with Jani taking over from Dumas and Kamui Kobayashi switched positions with Conway. Webber stopped one lap later and Hartley climbed aboard the No. 1 Porsche.[36]

After the pit stops Hartley remained the leader in the No. 1 Porsche while Jarvis moved in front of Lotterer because the latter had a longer pit stop.[36] Cumming lost control of the No. 31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier driving into Club corner after encountering a LMGTE Ferrari, went across grass, and spun at the turn's center, allowing Rusinov to move into the lead of LMP2 and Ricardo González took over second.[35][36] The LMGTE field began making pit stops after 52 minutes when Darren Turner drove the No. 95 Aston Martin into his pit box while Fernando Rees in the sister No. 97 car was issued with a stop-and-go penalty for exceeding track limits. Both Ford cars moved into second and third in LMGTE Pro when the No. 77 Porsche had only fuel placed inside it. Turner overtook Priaulx for fourth place in LMGTE Pro while Christensen moved ahead of Mücke for second position in the category at Stowe corner.[36] Merhi went wide at Copse corner, which allowed Nelson Panciatici to take advantage, and he overtook Merhi for fifth in LMP2. Kane passed González to move into second in the category. Panciatici heavily out-braked Cumming to claim fourth place while Piquet lost control of his car in an attempt to overtake the defensive Rossiter who kept eighth position.[35]

While coming across the Piquet and Rossiter battle Lotterer moved in front of teammate Jarvis to claim second place. Rusinov entered the pit lane from the LMP2 lead for left-rear bodywork repairs and Rast was handed the No. 26 Oreca. Piquet was able to pass Rossiter for eighth position overall while Turner moved ahead of the other Ford car to run in third in LMGTE Pro.[35] The second round of pit stops began one minute later when Jarvis entered the pit lane and the remainder of the LMP1 field followed in response for driver changes. Benoît Tréluyer pushed hard and lost control of his car's back-end at Vale corner, allowing Jani to move into second position.[36] Christensen's right-front tyre was punctured at Becketts corner and he made a pit stop for a replacement wheel which promoted Turner to second in the class. After changing drivers in the No. 42 Strakka Racing Gibson, Danny Watts overtook González at Brooklands corner for second position in LMP2.[38] Hartley went to the outside of Wainwright driving through Farm Curve and his car's right-front quarter made contact with Wainwright's left-rear section. Hartley went over the bonnet of the No. 86 Porsche but avoided flipping over; both cars went off the track, skidding across the gravel trap, and into the barriers at the end of the Complex.[38][39][40] Both Hartley and Wainwright retired and a full course yellow flag was necessitated to allow the cars to be extracted from the track.[35]

The incident allowed Jani to move into the lead but di Grassi stopped at Farm Curve with a motor generator unit problem shortly afterwards. His team's mechanics were allowed to tend to the Audi after travelling via a course car, extending the full course yellow as it was tended to.[38] Di Grassi's race ended prematurely and a mechanic used a fire extinguisher to extinguish smoke bellowing from his car.[35] The race resumed after 23 minutes with Tréluyer attacking Lieb.[36] Upon being delayed by the No. 13 Rebellion Racing car, Tréluyer overtook Lieb to move into the lead on the approach to Maggots corner and pulled away on the Hangar straight.[35] Rast stopped at the entrance of Maggots corner with a fuel pump pressure failure,[41] causing him to lose the LMP2 lead to Watts and rejoined in third place in class. Rast recovered and passed Senna for second in LMP2 by using the grass at Stowe corner.[35][36] Tréluyer was blocked by slower traffic allowing Lieb to close up to him on the Wellington straight. Lieb could not overtake because he was delayed by a pack of LMP2 cars.[35] Meanwhile, Rast closed up to Watts and overtook him to retake the LMP2 lead. Tréluyer and Lieb ran closely between each other before the former pulled away from Lieb.[36]

 
Marcel Fässler (pictured in 2013) helped Audi finish the race first before they were disqualified for a technical infringement.

Another round of green flag pit stops commenced after three hours and eight minutes with Tréluyer being the first of the leaders to stop with both Toyota cars following two minutes later.[36] The safety car was deployed when Nakajima's right-front tyre failed on the Wellington straight following contact with a LMGTE car and debris from his Toyota was littered on the track.[40][42] Nakajima pulled over to the side of the circuit at Brooklands corner and stopped. Marshals were required to remove on-track debris. The safety car drove into the pit lane 12 minutes later and racing resumed with Tréluyer remaining in first and Lieb second.[35] Nakajima's car was transported back into his garage for repairs.[36] Dumas turned into Franchitti's Ford and half-spun into the grass at Club corner, losing more than ten seconds to Tréluyer.[35][42] Dumas was then forced wide onto the Woodcote corner run-off area by Rao and Rees overtook Franchitti for fifth in LMGTE Pro. After serving an earlier three-minute stop-and-go penalty for changing the car's engine Calado was running third in LMGTE Pro while Buemi drove the No. 5 Toyota back onto the circuit after his car was repaired. Tréluyer made a pit stop for fuel and tyres with Fässler taking over the No. 7 car.[35][36] Fässler was followed by Lieb making a pit stop from the lead and handed his driving duties over to Jani. Fässler thus retook the lead with a nine-second advantage.[36]

Fässler extended his lead to 13 seconds when Jani was delayed by a Porsche LMGTE car at Brooklands corner. Jani was able to reduce the time deficit to ten seconds before Fässler made a pit stop for new tyres by recording the fastest lap of the race in response, at one minute and 30.303 seconds.[35] Jani made his pit stop for new tyres with over a minute lead with Fässler retaking the first position.[35][36] After five minutes Jani's front-right tyre was punctured, necessitating an unscheduled pit stop to change the wheel,[35] and for extra fuel.[36] Fässler made his final scheduled pit stop for fuel to reach the end of the race and remained in the lead with a seven-second lead over Jani. Bachler suffered a front-right suspension issue on his car.[35] Smoke bellowed out of the back of Richie Stanaway's Aston Martin heading into Copse corner and the car retired.[35][36] Joël Camathias took over the LMGTE Am lead but slowed with a car problem and returned slowly to the pit lane, allowing the No. 83 AF Corse into first place.[36] Pantanici lost sixth place in LMP2 to Merhi at the loop and Rast moved into third in category at Copse corner.[35] The final stops began when Bruni made a stop, followed by Filipe Albuquerque who gained the LMP2 lead from co-driver Senna earlier on. Both Jani and Kobayashi stopped for fuel, enabling the pair to reach the end of the race.[36]

Nicolas Lapierre sustained a puncture on his car in the final lap, allowing Strakka Racing to inherit fourth place.[35] Unhindered in the final 35 minutes Fässler was the first driver to finish the race,[36] 47 seconds ahead of Jani in second place, and Kobayashi followed in third position in the No. 6 Toyota.[43] Albuquerque maintained his advantage to take the victory in LMP2, earning him and Senna their first World Endurance Championship class victories and González's fourth.[43] They were followed by the No. 31 Extreme Speed Motorspors Ligier of Ryan Dalziel, Derani and Cumming 32 seconds later,[40] with Rusinov, Nathanaël Berthon and Rast's No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca completing the class podium with all three cars on the same lap as each other.[43] The No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari of Bird and Rigon were unchallenged throughout the race and clinched their first victory of the season, in front of teammates Bruni and Calado, with Turner, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen in the No. 95 Aston Martin rounding out the LMGTE Pro podium positions.[43] In LMGTE Am, François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Agias led the final half hour to secure their team's first win of the year in the category with a one-lap advantage over Aston Martin's No. 95 entry of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda.[43]

Post-raceEdit

 
The race-winning No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid

The top three drivers of each racing class appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in a later press conference. Lotterer was delighted over his team's performance, saying at this early stage of the season, Audi were "amazed" they were able to finish as the winners, but felt they were lucky because of Hartley's crash.[33] Fässler said it had been "a riveting race" and the slower traffic made it more unpredictable.[44] Tréluyer described the win as "the best way to open a season as you can imagine."[44] Jani felt he would have had a possibility to challenge for the victory had he not been delayed by his late-race puncture.[45] Dumas was satisfied with his early race battle with Jarvis and revealed that Porsche's target was to remain with their rivals.[46] Sarrazin stated although his team still need improvements they were already closer than they had been the previous season and they were motivated to battle at the front of the field.[47] Conway said the team's result was "a cool way to start the year" but had not been easy because Toyota still needed to work on their car's pace to get closer to their opposition.[47] Kobayashi said his first race in LMP1 was "a positive start" and was excited about the No. 6 car's development.[47]

Hartley was reprimanded by the stewards because he was deemed responsible for causing the crash between himself and Wainwright.[48] He said that he felt "very upset for the team" but praised his car and Webber for his first (and only) stint. Hartley revealed that he did not feel pressure because of his large advantage upfront but did not apportion blame for the accident, calling it "a shocking moment and it is a true shame."[49] Wainwright apportioned blame on Hartley for causing the incident, saying he was not aware the latter was near him until the crash occurred. He spoke of his feeling that Hartley was attempting to pass him and move across the track to rejoin onto the racing line for the next turn.[39] His co-driver Carroll observed the incident and stated Hartley had not left enough space as was seen on television. He said it was "a very unfortunate accident and one that definitely could have been avoided. Definitely not our fault."[39] All three of Audi's No. 8 car drivers were disappointed over their retirement from a hybrid system failure but Jarvis was optimistic for the next race.[44]

Shortly after the race, the No. 7 Audi was disqualified when scrutineers discovered that the car's front skid block had been worn out by more than the permitted amount of 5 millimetres (0.20 in).[33] The team offered an explanation to the stewards about the issue but it was rejected. Audi announced early on 18 April that they would appeal the decision,[33] meaning the race result would remain provisional until the appeal was settled.[43] Three days later, the team chose to drop their appeal following analysis of the problem that revealed the car was subjected to unexpected vertical movements. The head of Audi Sport, Wolfgang Ullrich, said the decision was made in the best interests of the championship and hoped the season's remaining races would be as "similarly thrilling as the season opener."[50] The No. 7 Audi's disqualification meant Lieb, Jani and Dumas took their first victory of the season with Sarrazin, Conway and Kobayashi promoted to second,[43] and Rebellion Racing's No. 13 car of Dominik Kraihamer, Alexandre Imperatori and Mathéo Tuscher inherited third, the team's first podium in the series since the 2013 6 Hours of Fuji.[51]

As this was the first race of the season, Lieb, Jani and Dumas became the leaders of the Drivers' Championship with 25 points each, seven points ahead of their nearest rivals Sarrazin, Conway and Kobayashi, and a further three in front of Kraihamer, Imperatori and Tuscher. Heidfeld, Prost and Piquet were fourth on twelve points, with Senna, Albuquerque and González rounding out the top five with ten points.[52] Toyota were leading the Manufacturers' Championship with 33 points, eight ahead of their rival Porsche in second; the third-placed manufacturer Audi had scored one point with eight races left in the season.[52]

Race resultEdit

The minimum number of laps for classification (70% of the overall winning car's race distance) was 136 laps. Class winners are denoted by the symbol  [53]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps Time/Retired
Engine
1 LMP1 2   Porsche Team   Marc Lieb
  Romain Dumas
  Neel Jani
Porsche 919 Hybrid 'M' 194 06:01:53.028  
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
2 LMP1 6   Toyota Gazoo Racing   Stéphane Sarrazin
  Mike Conway
  Kamui Kobayashi
Toyota TS050 Hybrid M 193 +1 Lap
Toyota 2.4 L Turbo V6
3 LMP1 13   Rebellion Racing   Dominik Kraihamer
  Alexandre Imperatori
  Mathéo Tuscher
Rebellion R-One D 183 +11 Laps
AER P60 2.4 L Turbo V6
4 LMP1 12   Rebellion Racing   Nico Prost
  Nick Heidfeld
  Nelson Piquet Jr.
Rebellion R-One D 181 +13 Laps
AER P60 2.4 L Turbo V6
5 LMP2 43   RGR Sport by Morand   Ricardo González
  Filipe Albuquerque
  Bruno Senna
Ligier JS P2 'D' 179 +15 Laps  
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
6 LMP2 31   Extreme Speed Motorsports   Ryan Dalziel
  Chris Cumming
  Pipo Derani
Ligier JS P2 D 179 +15 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
7 LMP2 26   G-Drive Racing   Roman Rusinov
  Nathanaël Berthon
  René Rast
Oreca 05 D 179 +15 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
8 LMP2 36   Signatech Alpine   Nicolas Lapierre
  Gustavo Menezes
  Stéphane Richelmi
Alpine A460 D 178 +16 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
9 LMP2 42   Strakka Racing   Nick Leventis
  Jonny Kane
  Danny Watts
Gibson 015S D 177 +17 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
10 LMP2 45   Manor   Matt Rao
  Richard Bradley
  Roberto Merhi
Oreca 05 D 177 +17 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
11 LMP2 35   Baxi DC Racing Alpine   David Cheng
  Ho-Pin Tung
  Nelson Panciatici
Alpine A460 D 176 +18 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
12 LMP2 37   SMP Racing   Vitaly Petrov
  Viktor Shaytar
  Kirill Ladygin
BR Engineering BR01 D 176 +18 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
13 LMP2 30   Extreme Speed Motorsports   Scott Sharp
  Ed Brown
  Johannes van Overbeek
Ligier JS P2 D 175 +19 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
14 LMP1 4   ByKolles Racing Team   Simon Trummer
  James Rossiter
  Oliver Webb
CLM P1/01 D 172 +22 Laps
AER P60 2.4 L Turbo V6
15 LMP2 27   SMP Racing   Nicolas Minassian
  Maurizio Mediani
BR Engineering BR01 D 171 +23 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
16 LMP1 5   Toyota Gazoo Racing   Anthony Davidson
  Sébastien Buemi
  Kazuki Nakajima
Toyota TS050 Hybrid M 170 +24 Laps
Toyota 2.4 L Turbo V6
17 LMGTE
Pro
71   AF Corse   Davide Rigon
  Sam Bird
Ferrari 488 GTE 'M' 167 +27 Laps  
Ferrari F154CB 3.9 L Turbo V8
18 LMGTE
Pro
51   AF Corse   Gianmaria Bruni
  James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE M 166 +28 Laps
Ferrari F154CB 3.9 L Turbo V8
19 LMGTE
Pro
95   Aston Martin Racing   Nicki Thiim
  Marco Sørensen
  Darren Turner
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE D 166 +28 Laps
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
20 LMGTE
Pro
67   Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK   Andy Priaulx
  Marino Franchitti
  Harry Tincknell
Ford GT M 165 +29 Laps
Ford EcoBoost 3.5 L Turbo V6
21 LMGTE
Pro
66   Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK   Olivier Pla
  Stefan Mücke
  Billy Johnson
Ford GT M 165 +29 Laps
Ford EcoBoost 3.5 L Turbo V6
22 LMGTE
Am
83   AF Corse   François Perrodo
  Emmanuel Collard
  Rui Águas
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 'M' 163 +31 Laps  
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
23 LMGTE
Am
98   Aston Martin Racing   Paul Dalla Lana
  Pedro Lamy
  Mathias Lauda
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE D 162 +32 Laps
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
24 LMGTE
Am
50   Larbre Compétition   Yutaka Yamagishi
  Paolo Ruberti
  Pierre Ragues
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R M 161 +33 Laps
Chevrolet LT5.5 5.5 L V8
25 LMGTE
Pro
77   Dempsey-Proton Racing   Richard Lietz
  Michael Christensen
Porsche 911 RSR M 154 +40 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
26 LMGTE
Am
78   KCMG   Christian Ried
  Wolf Henzler
  Joël Camathias
Porsche 911 RSR M 154 +40 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
27 LMGTE
Am
88   Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing   Khaled Al Qubaisi
  Klaus Bachler
  David Heinemeier Hansson
Porsche 911 RSR M 153 +41 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
DNF LMGTE
Pro
97   Aston Martin Racing   Fernando Rees
  Richie Stanaway
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE D 151 Engine
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 44   Manor   Tor Graves
  James Jakes
  Will Stevens
Oreca 05 D 129 Powertrain
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP1 1   Porsche Team   Timo Bernhard
  Brendon Hartley
  Mark Webber
Porsche 919 Hybrid M 70 Accident
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
DNF LMP1 8   Audi Sport Team Joest   Loïc Duval
  Lucas di Grassi
  Oliver Jarvis
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 69 Electrical
Audi TDI 4.0 L Turbo Diesel V6
DNF LMGTE
Am
86   Gulf Racing   Michael Wainwright
  Adam Carroll
  Ben Barker
Porsche 911 RSR M 56 Accident
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
EX[N 1] LMP1 7   Audi Sport Team Joest   André Lotterer
  Marcel Fässler
  Benoît Tréluyer
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 194 Disqualified
Audi TDI 4.0 L Turbo Diesel V6

Standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for the Drivers' Championship standings.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The No. 7 Audi was excluded from the race for a technical infraction in post-race inspection. The car's skid plank was worn beyond the limits allowed by the regulations.[33]

ReferencesEdit

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