Some say, that if you squint hard enough you can see the tower at COTA from the moon. Not sure if I believe them, one thing is for certain, the Lone Star Le Mans loomed large as a challenge in the stifling Texan heat for the WEC teams and manufacturers in their pursuit of accolades. Time to look back on the weekend that was in Texas for the WEC series.
As the teams made their way up from Mexico City to Austin, the series is nearing its final trimester. To those who are fighting to stay in their respective Championship, time is running out. The round at COTA provides one of the few remaining opportunities. How would it play out Texas?
At the top of the grid leading into race day, it looked to be all set for another Porsche dominated weekend. Toyota opted to qualify on the harder of the two compounds to try to achieve an edge over Porsche and it looked to have been the right idea early in the race.
Early in the first stint, the No. 8 Toyota got ahead of the Championship leading No. 2 Porsche and was maintaining a consistent gap to the lead No.1 Porsche. The sister No.7 Toyota also passed the No.2 Porsche making the Toyota pair running a close second, and third place.
Both TS050’s were able to leap frog the No.1 Porsche in the first pit cycle as the Porsche’s pitted for new shoes having qualified on the softer rubber. The running order an hour into the race was the No. 8 Toyota leading the field, No. 7 Toyota in second, No.1 Porsche third, and the No. 2 Porsche in fourth.
Things would not continue to go Toyota’s way for long.
On the fresher rubber, the Porsche’s closed down the Toyota’s and overtake their competitors leading comfortably by mid-race. Although the race finished with the Toyota’s within 30-seconds of the lead pair, they were unable to mount any significant threat to the German blitzkrieg that are the 919 Hybrids.
Porsche team orders came in to play in the final laps as the leading No. 1 Porsche was instructed to allow the No. 2 to pass and take the win. The move all but ensures a Drivers Championship for the trio of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, and Earl Bamber.
In LMP2, the No. 36 Signatech Alpine claimed victory ahead of both Vailliante Rebellion’s. It was Ferrari’s day in GTE-Pro with the No. 51 Scuderia Corse taking the flag first. And in GTE-Am, it would be the No. 98 Aston Martin somehow surviving an extended stop with repairs needed in the garage, to ultimately win the race with a gap of over a minute.
As WEC action ends in the Western Hemisphere, we turn our attention East with the next round of action taking place in Fuji Japan, site of perhaps the most exciting race in the WEC’s history last year.
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