– Dunlop teams win LMP2 and GTE Am classes at Circuit of the Americas
– LMP2 championship battle closed further
– Top two positions in GTE Am title standings taken by Dunlop squads
The final hour of FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) racing in the 6 Hours of COTA brought drama in the LMP2 and GTE Am classes. The first five hours had brought more exciting racing, but the closing stages proved especially dramatic.
Signatech Alpine Matmut’s Lapierre/Menezes/Negrão line-up dominated the LMP2 race, leading 144 of the 177 laps. The win was in doubt in the final 15 minutes when the race director spotted a defective light. The team had built a 57 second margin and was able to pit and replace the rear bodywork to resolve the issue and still managed to cross the line 30 seconds ahead of the pair of Vaillante Rebellion Orecas. The win is the second consecutive COTA win and the first win in 2017 for the team. Signatech and the #31 Vaillante Rebellion squad have now reduced the margin to standings leaders Jackie Chan DC Racing with three races remaining.
In the GT classes, the race wasn’t so clear-cut. After the opening laps from pole position, the Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda Aston Martin Racing Vantage conceded positions, regaining the lead on lap 121 of 162 and crossing the line 50 seconds ahead of the rest to take the win and lead in the standings. A Dunlop 1-2 was thwarted by a mechanical issue for the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche in the last 30 minutes which necessitated an additional stop and affected performance. The team salvaged points for fourth place and is now second in the title battle, just four points from the lead. The #95 Aston Martin was a GTE Pro class leader at times during the six hours of competition and narrowly missed a podium finish by only 3.6 seconds.
Teams chose a variety of tyre specifications and a mix of strategies, including single specification, left/right split compounds and front/rear splits. A replacement tyre was introduced for the Aston Martin GTE Pro which performed well in the Texas heat.
Paul Bryant, Event Leader, Dunlop Motorsport : « That was another great race and we have two more worthy Dunlop winners. It was a shame that the #95 Aston Martin lost time on track after being blocked by a slower car because it undoubtedly made a difference of more than the 3.5 second deficit, so we could easily have had another podium finish. It was good to have another race with such varied strategies and use of the options across the classes, and also that the new option introduced for the Aston Martin performed to our expectations. With three races remaining we are now looking at titles as well as race wins so the next rounds will be very interesting when we head to Asia. »
Round seven of the FIA World Endurance Championship is the 6 Hours of Fuji, Japan, on 15th October.