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FIA WEC: Silverstone – Audi wins season opener; Porsche, Toyota also on podium

The #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid (Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer) won the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone by 4.160 sec over the #18 Porsche 919 hybrid (Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb). Defending series champions Anthony Davidson, Sebatien Buemi, and Kaz Nakajima (#1 Toyota TS040 Hybrid) finished third.

The Audi’s sister car, driven by Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval, and Oliver Jarvis took fifth place following two unscheduled pit stops. “Congratulations to Marcel, André and Ben, who delivered fantastic motorsport for 6 hrs today,” said head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “This victory is a dream start of the season and a great reward for the whole squad for the hard work last winter.”

Early events did not augur well for the #7. Unable to immediately engage the transmission, Tréluyer, who started fifth on the grid, lost a lot of ground and had to battle his way forward through half of the field on the first laps. Lotterer took over driving duties from Marcel Fässler after 2 and half hours, and 30 minutes later led the race. “A perfect day for Audi and for our team,” said Lotterer. “We were under pressure from the first to the last lap and could not afford to slip. We managed to do this and the team did everything right at the pit stops and with the perfect strategy. Now, we’re going to take this momentum with us to Spa and to Le Mans.”

G-Drive Racing’s Ligier JS P2-Nissans locked out the LMP2 front row and took the checkered flag in the first two places as well as setting the two fastest laps in class. The #26 (Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal, Sam Bird) took first, followed by the #28 (Gustavo Yacaman, Pipo Derani, Ricardo Gonzalez).The Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports #30 HPD ARX 03b-Honda (Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier-Hansson) completed the race in third place but failed post-race inspection after it was deemed the floor had too much wear as a result of chassis modifications.

Dalziel started fifth on the grid, leapt into fourth in the first 12 laps, and eventually reached a race-high third. He drove the first 90 min and then turned the car over to Heinemeier-Hansson, who maintained the third-place spot. Near the end of his stint, another car made contact with Heinemeier-Hansson, causing damage to his left rear. Heinemeier-Hansson pitted so the team could replace the bodywork, change tires, refuel, and complete a driver change to Sharp. Sharp ran in third place for his stint before the final driver change to Dalziel, who closed the contest.

With ESM removed, the #42 Strakka Racing Dome S103-Nissan (Nick Leventis, Danny Watts, Jonny Kane) took the last step on the LMP2 podium.

Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander took the GTE Pro victory in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia by 10.665 sec over the #91 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR driven by Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen. The second AF Corse Ferrari (#71, Davide Rigon and James Calado) finished third.

The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 (Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda) won in GTE Am, 13.712 sec ahead of the #83 AF Corse Ferrari, with the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari in third.
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