A first video from Austin of the free practice of round 5 of the Sports Car World Championship WEC (World Endurance Championship)
FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), LMP1, Round 5, Austin (USA), Free Practice
Convincing kick-off for Porsche 919 Hybrids in Texas
Stuttgart. The Porsche Team had a promising first day of practice before the fifth of the eight rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Austin, Texas (US). In both the two 90-minute free practice sessions on the spectacular 5.513 kilometre long Grand Prix circuit a Porsche 919 Hybrid has topped the time sheets. After the first session took place in the afternoon with track temperatures way over 40 degrees Celsius and ambient temperatures in the mid thirties, the second session was held after sunset. Each of the drivers had to complete five mandatory laps in the dark.
In the first session the number 18 Le Mans Prototype of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) was the fastest car on track with a lap time of 1:47.231 minutes. Second fastest was the number 17 sister car, shared by Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), which lost some track time towards the end of the session after a problem with the front axle. Their best lap time was 1:47.514 minutes.
In the slightly cooler night session, but with ambient temperatures still 31 degrees Celsius, Bernhard/Hartley/Webber were fastest (1:47.442 min) with Dumas/Jani/Lieb coming third (1:48.268 min).
The Porsche Team’s clear target in Austin is to defend its lead in the manufacturers’ World Championship. After two one-two results in Le Mans and at the Nürburgring, Porsche currently has a tally of 184 points, followed by Audi (151) and Toyota (89). LMP1 qualifying will be held on Friday from 18:15-18:35 hrs local time (Saturday 01:15-01:35 hrs CEST), with the race starting on Saturday at 17:00 hrs local time (00:00 CEST).
Quotes after free practice:
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “It was overall a good first day for us. The first session was held in very hot conditions, which gave us a taste of what we can expect for the start of the race. The heat certainly places an extra challenge on the car and the drivers. Car number 17 lost some time in FP1 due to a problem with the front axle. In FP2 we were focussing on longer runs with single sets of tyres, and this all went according to plan.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 17
Timo Bernhard (34, Germany): “I only drove in the night session and then did a longer run in preparation for the race. It all went well. The traffic with 31 cars at different speeds is challenging. Of course, we have that all the time in endurance racing, but I have the feeling this track makes it extra demanding, especially in the dark. You have to read the traffic quite carefully.”
Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “It is amazing what a step forward we have made with the car compared to 2014. The pace this morning was good immediately. After only a few laps my lap times were better than last year’s pole time. The 919 is great fun to drive, especially in the fast corners of sector one. In the night session the Audis looked very competitive, so it’s going be very close again.”
Mark Webber (39, Australia): “The car is very good at COTA, and the homework we have done between the events has been really good. The performance and speed were good straight away. In FP1 we had to stop early, just when we wanted to begin with the set-up work. It is quite unusual for us to have the car in the garage during a session. FP2 was very beneficial in helping the drivers and engineers check everything in night conditions.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 18
Romain Dumas (37, France): “Compared to last year, the difference is like night and day. With our new high downforce kit the fast corners are really great to drive. It is really fast and really hot here.”
Neel Jani (31, Switzerland): “The track is fast and flowing. We had a good start, but still have some set-up changes to do. The difference between last year’s and this year’s Porsche 919 is quite large. In the fast corners especially, we can feel much more grip. At night I had the feeling the slightly lower temperatures can be rather positive for us. On the main straight you have to get used to the lights shaking when the car hits the bumps.”
Marc Lieb (35, Germany): “Our car is good on this track. In FP1 it was really hot in the cockpit, but luckily the whole of the race will not take place at this time of day. The visibility at night is generally okay. But what you experience more in the dark is how difficult it is to look into the tight left handers. We don’t sit in the centre of the car, but slightly to the left hand side of it and quite close to the A pillar.”