Audi won the first two races of the season, with Porsche winning at Le Mans and every race since to clinch the manufacturers championship. The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage (Paul Dalla Lana, Matthias Lauda, and Pedro Lamy) took pole in GTE Am. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander) started first in GTE Pro. Signatech Alpine’s #36 A450b-Nissan (Tom Dillmann) topped the LMP2 grid. Team Porsche 919 Hybrid’s locked down the front row, the #17 (Timo Bernhard) topping the #18 (Romain Dumas), with the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest e-tron Quattro (Marcel Fassler) starting third, still in driver’s championship contention.
The #47 KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan (Nick Tandy) took the LMP2 lead at the start, followed by the #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan (Sam Bird). Lucas di Grassi (#8 Audi) took third 2 min into the race. At the 5:45 mark the #51 Ferrari remained in the GTE Pro lead, followed by the #92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 (Patrick Pilet) and the #97 Aston Martin.
Pilet took the lead in class with 5:42 remaining. Di Grassi took the lead from Dumas at 5:28, Fassler running third. The #17 Porsche came into the pits having partially lost power due to throttle linkage damage. The #50 Larbre Competition Corvette (Paulo Ruberti) led GTE Am. The #7 (running third) needed to win the race and have the #17 finish no higher than P5 to also win the championship.
The #17 rejoined competition at 5:20 with Bernhard still behind the wheel. Di Grassi pitted from the lead with 5:17 to go. The #7 Audi pitted 4 min later, Andre Lotterer getting into the car. The #18 Porsche had a lengthier stop and returned to the track in third. One hour into the race the #8 led by 7.1 sec over the #7 and 13.2 over the #18. The #17 Porsche was 4 laps down.
The #8 Audi pitted from the lead at 4:30, Marc Lieb taking over. The #17 Porsche followed, Brendon Hartley beginning his stint. Lotterer came in next, staying behind the wheel. Hartley had climbed to P7 by 4:15, but had yet to take his second stop. The #83 AF Corse Ferrari led GTE Am.
The #18 started reporting temperature problems with just more than 4 hr to go.
At 3:15 the #8, now driven by Loic Duval, had a brake disc explode, damaging the left front of the car and forcing an extended pit stop, moving the #17 up to fifth.
Pilet led GTE Pro by 28 sec at the halfway point, under a brief full-course caution to remove debris, in front of both the AF Corse Ferraris. The Ferrari 2-3 had them provisionally in the lead of the GT manufacturers championship, Richard Lietz running P6 in the #91 Porsche. Lietz’s place was enough to give him the GT drivers championship if he held it to the end.
The lead GTE Am entrant 3 hr in was the #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche, driven by Klaus Bechler. The #77 Dempsey-Proton sister car ran second, Marco Seefried behind the wheel.
The GTE Am championship contenders, the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari and the #83 AF Corse Ferrari, were P6 and P5 respectively, leaving SMP a 19-point advantage over the Italian team.
The #7 Audi, driven by Benoit Treluyer, held a 0.3 sec lead over Leib in the sister car. Toyota Racing TS040 Hybrids ran third and fourth, Alex Wurz holding P3 in the #2 in the final race of his career. Richard Bradley led LMP2 in the KCMG entry. The #26 G-Drive ran fourth, however, enough to give it the title even if KCMG won the race.
The #92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 driven by Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki scored its first victory of 2015 ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of outgoing champions Vilander and Bruni. A difficult weekend for the #91 Porsche driven by Lietz and Michael Christensen saw the Austrian-Danish duo finish in 5th place, but this was good enough to secure the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers’ for Lietz, giving the German manufacturer a sweep of both the LMP1 and LMGTE Pro categories.
The LMGTE Am title was secured by the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari driven by Andrea Bertolini, Aleksey Basov and Victor Shaytar, the Russian team and Russo-Italian trio adding the 2015 World Endurance title to the 24 Hours of Le Mans victory back in June and the 2014 European Le Mans Series crown. They finished fifth after a difficult weekend but the only other contenders, the #83 AF Corse Ferrari, finished P4 when they needed a victory to have a shot at the crown. The #98 Aston was the class winner of the race, adding it to earlier victories at Silverstone and Spa.
Webber, Hartley and Bernhard won the 2015 FIA World Endurance drivers’ championship, finishing fifth in the #17 Porsche following its early-race technical problems. The #18 Porsche, however, took the win (Neel Jani, Lieb, Dumas) in front of the #7 Audi (Lotterer, Fassler, Treluyer), securing a 5 point advantage in the final standings. The title was the first of Webber’s driving career.
With the sister #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas winning the race ahead of the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest car of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer, it ensured that the #17 Porsche drivers enjoyed a five point advantage in the final provisional championship standings.
The #26 G-Drive driven by Bird, Roman Rusinov, and Julien Canal took the LMP2 drivers’ and teams’ championships with a late charge to victory, Bird overtaking Tandy’s KCMG in the closing stages to clinch its fourth win of the season.
Final 2015 standings:
1. #17 Team Porsche 919 Hybrid; Brendon Hartley (New Zealand), Mark Webber (Australia), Timo Bernhard (Germany) – 166
2. #7 Audi Sport Team Joest e-tron Quattro; Andre Lotterer (Germany), Benoit Treluyer (France), Marcel Fassler (Switzerland) – 161
3. #18 Porsche; Marc Lieb (Germany), Neel Jani (Switzerland), Romain Dumas (France) – 138.5
1. #26 G-Drive Racing JS P2-Nissan; Julien Canal (France), Roman Rusinov (Russia), Sam Bird (Great Britain) – 178
2. #47 KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan; Matthew Howson (Great Britain), Richard Bradley (Great Britain) – 155
3. #28 G-Drive; Gustavo Yacaman (Colombia), Luis Felipe Derani (Brazil), Ricardo Gonzalez (Mexico) – 134
1. #91 Porsche Team Manthey 911; Richard Lietz (Austria) – 145
2. #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia; Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Toni Vilander (Finland) – 131.5
3. #91 Porsche; Michael Christensen (Denmark)
1. #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia; Aleksey Basov (Russia), Andrea Bertolini (Italy), Viktor Shaytar (Russia)
2. #83 AF Corse Ferrari; Emmanuel Collard (France), Francois Perrado (France)
3. #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8; Matthias Lauda (Austria), Paul Dalla Lana (Canada), Pedro Lamy (Portugal)