After a strong qualifying performance and a long time in the lead in the race the two Porsche 919 Hybrids only finished fourth and fifth in the six-hour race on Saturday. Car number 14, driven by Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany), was leading the race for a long time, but suffered problems at the end and finished just in front of its sister car in Austin, Texas (USA). Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and Mark Webber (Australia) brought their number 20 car home in fifth place after an action packed fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which was held half at night.
Starting drivers Dumas (P2) and Webber (P3) lost ground in the early stages of the race. They were running fifth and sixth when they came in for their first pit stops. After the first 100 minutes rain set in and led to chaos. On a track that was suddenly flooded half a dozen cars spun off and became stranded, car number 20 with Timo Bernhard at the wheel was one of them. The race was red flagged and stopped for 45 minutes.
At the restart behind the safety car Jani was at the wheel of car number 14, and was third in the race on slick intermediate tyres. He soon took the lead, and after 105 laps handed over to Lieb who went out on slicks. After the final stop for fuel after 133 laps a loss of engine power forced him to drop back to fourth.
Bernhard in the number 20 sister car was able to continue after the red flag and after he had been rescued from the gravel on full wet tyres, but soon changed to slick intermediate tyres as well. On lap 90 he was lying fourth and handed over to Hartley. For the last 30 minutes Webber returned to the car and finally crossed the line in fifth.
"It wasn’t my day today," said Timo. "My stint began well before the drizzle started. I went for slick intermediate tyres but when I left the pit lane it suddenly became heavy rain. I found myself floating, I was just a passenger. Then for the restart behind the safety car we went on the safe side and took full wet tyres, but this was a disadvantage. Later with the slick intermediate tyres it was all fine. However, that’s racing."
Race result 6 hours of Austin (Texas):
1. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 157 laps
2. Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (BRA/F/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 53,016 s.
3. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 1:03,945 min
4. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 1 lap
5. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 2 laps
6. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (A/F/GB), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 2 laps
FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) after 4 of 8 rounds:
1. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota, 96 points
2. Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (D/F/CH), Audi, 85
3. Di Grassi/ Kristensen (BRA/DK), Audi, 72
4. Prost/Heidfeld/Beche (F/D/CH), Rebellion, 48
5. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche, 45
6. Wurz/Sarrazin (A/F), Toyota, 43
7. Duval (F), Audi, 36
8. Gené (E), Audi, 36
9. Nakajima (J), Toyota, 35
10. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche, 25,5
1. Audi, 157
2. Toyota, 139
3. Porsche, 82