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FIA WEC: 6 Hours of Sao Paulo – Porsche takes first LMP1 win, Toyota the title

Team Porsche swept the front row in qualifying, the #20 919 Hybrid (Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley) on the pole and the #14 (Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb) next door. Row 2 was split by Toyota and Audi, drivers’ champions Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson (#8 Toyota Racing TS040 Hybrid) in P3 and the #2 Audi  Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro (Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer) P4, with the two makes still vying for the manufacturers’ crown.

The #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan (Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla, Julien Canal) took pole in LMP2, followed by KCMG’s #47 Oreca 03R-Nissan (Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley, Alexandre Imperatori).

Aston Martin Racing took three of the Top 4 GTE Pro/GTE Am qualifying spots, including both poles. Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke topped GTE Pro in the #97 Vantage V8. The #98 Aston (Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Christoffer Nygaard) was fastest in GTE Am qualifying, followed by class champions Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Nicki Thiim in the #95. The #92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR (Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet) was second fastest in GTE Pro.

All six LMP1 cars were still on the lead lap with 90 min left, the #20 and #14 Porsches still running 1-2. Ten minutes earlier Tom Kristensen got behind the wheel of the #1 Audi for the last time in his career.

With just under 27 min left in the race Webber lost control of the #20, hit the barriers hard, and collected the #90 8Star Motorsports GTE Am Ferrari 458 Italia piloted by Matteo Cressoni in the process. Webber went to the infield care center for further evaluation, Cressoni was treated trackside. The race ended behind the safety car.

The #14 Porsche with Jani driving took the mark’s first win since returning to prototype endurance racing at the start of the season, just 0.170 sec ahead of the #8 Toyota. Kristensen, Loic Duval, and Lucas Di Grassi took third, one lap down in the #1 Audi, grabbing the Dane a podium in his final contest. The second place finish gave Toyota the manufacturers’ championship.

“I think we are incredibly proud to be on the podium here today,” Kristensen said after the race. “We needed a little more electrical grunt but the circuit and the surface feel absolutely amazing with the grip. We wanted to achieve what we did today. We lost 30-40 seconds with an issue at the pit stops so we always dropped back. We also had to do seven stints and a splash so we had to save some fuel. When the team said I could ‘go’ after saving some fuel I went for it again and everything felt good and I was able to make a small gap to Sarrazin before the safety car came.”

“I think [my retirement] will hit me soon but I am still in the race moment now and I have just got out of the car and I am enjoying things,” he said. “But this is it!  I look back at a long time of a lot of people I want to thank and also the fans of this fantastic championship which will go in to a great future and I look forward to following it. All of my happy memories I take with me from here. My first race that I did with Audi I finished on the podium so it is all a dream come true for me and also thanks to the kids on the right, they did a great job.”

Kristensen retires with a record 9 overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victories, three more than the next closest contender, Belgium’s Jackie Ickx, who last won in 1982.

Webber spent the night in a local hospital, having sustained bruising and concussion. He remains under observation but is set to travel to the UK later this week.

“I’m quite sore this morning,” he said earlier today, “am pretty bruised and have got a stinking headache. I’ve got no recollection of the accident or how it happened. The team is looking into the details to find out more. Thanks to the medical team at the track and here at the hospital, who did a great job and are looking after me very well.”

“On a positive note,” Webber continued, “it’s great that the boys in the number 14 car managed to bring home the victory, which is a fantastic way to finish off the season. I’m already looking forward to getting out there again next year."

 #47 KCMG Oreca won LMP2, 18 laps ahead of #27 SMP Racing Oreca driven by Sergey Zlobin, Nicolas Minassian, Maurizio Mediani. Despite the gap, SMP took the team title and Zlobin the class drivers’ title.

GTE Pro finished with the #97 Aston 7.595 sec ahead of the #92 Porsche which had 5.071 sec on the #71 AF Corse Ferrari (Davide Rigon, James Calado). The #98 Aston won GTE Am, leading its #95 sister car by 5.098 sec and the #81 AF Corse Ferrari (Andrea Bertolini, Michele Rugolo, Stephen Wyatt) by 20.665.  Ferrari won the FIA WEC Cup for GT manufacturers.

 

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