As the Audis and Toyota fought for victory in the top prototype class and overall race, many other cars were behind them looking to score a win in their classes Sunday.
In LMP2, which features purpose-built prototypes not built by a car manufacturer or connected to an engine supplier, the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 03 – Nissan finished a lap ahead of the No. 49 Pecom Racing Oreca 03 – Nissan.
Aston Martin Racing swept the Grand Touring classes, which feature production-based race cars and are split into teams with all professional drivers and those required to have one amateur driver.
In the LMGTE Pro class, the No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 took the checkered flag over the two AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italias and the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Porsche AG Team Manthey.
Aston Martin co-drivers Bruno Senna and Frédéric Mackowiecki started the race on pole and won six hours later by a margin of 15 seconds.
“We see now that the competition is so strong, we definitely need to get everything together to win races,” Senna said after the race. “Ferrari was very, very quick at the end; the Porsche was very, very quick at the end. Today it’s just that we were a bit more consistent than those guys, and we took more risks … and that’s why we managed to win.”
In the LMGTE Am class, the Aston Martin No. 96 and 95 Vantage V8s took first and second.
Fire underlines need for pit safety: Race officials stressed pit lane safety before this weekend’s races, including strict requirements for people working near the garages to wear fire suits and helmets. Pre-race instructions from the series’ governing body included scary-looking photographs of loose tires and crashing cars barreling down on photographers and other workers.
The dangers of working around race cars became clear in the first hour of Sunday’s race, when Porsche AG Team Manthey’s No. 91 911 RSR had a small fire during refueling.
The team was able to put the flames out quickly, make the repairs and send it back out four laps down. Over the remaining five hours, the car continued to slip off the lead, and it finished 24 laps back.
Team officials were able to put a positive spin on it, saying they’ll use the data gained throughout the race for the final three races of the season.
A Texas-size road trip: The winning Audi No. 2 essentially drove across Texas and more to win the World Endurance Championship’s maiden race at Circuit of the Americas.
Co-drivers Allan McNish, Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen completed 187 laps around the 3.4-mile circuit Sunday for a total of 635.8 miles, roughly the same as the distance between Laredo and Oklahoma City — about 620 miles — on Interstate 35.
At highway speeds, that same drive would take you about nine hours.
—Dave Doolittle, American-Statesman