FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The six hour sprint

Posted in England, Silverstone by folkestonejack on April 12, 2015

The start of the World Endurance Championship for 2015 was good enough reason to give up my Sunday lie-in and take an early morning bus up to the Northamptonshire borders. The series has been getting better by the year and the season opener offered the tantalising prospect of a closely fought season between three manufacturers in the headlining prototype category, backed up by a respectable grid across the other categories.

As the field lined up in Le Mans formation (a new feature for races in 2015) a hare raced down the grid before darting off in the direction of Brooklands. I don’t know if they are meant to be lucky omens, but if the terrific race we were treated to was anything to go by I would like to see a hare booked for next year!

Mark Webber took an early lead in the #17 Porsche Hybrid

Mark Webber took an early lead in the #17 Porsche Hybrid

Porsche took the front row of the grid in qualifying and led from the start, but over the six hours the pendulum gradually swung back in favour of the Audi, helped by the early retirement of Mark Webber’s Porsche (#17) with gearbox gremlins and the magnificent tyre management of the Audi prototypes.

The battles throughout the field were thrilling, but none more so than that between Fassler and Jani mid-race which saw second place traded backwards and forwards repeatedly for lap after lap. It was exhausting to watch, so goodness knows how it must have felt for the two drivers!

The eventual winners were the crew of the number 7 Audi, though not without a last minute scare as they took a late penalty for exceeding track limits. Over the six hours the leading teams completed 201 laps, breaking the previous record of 197 laps.

The #7 Audi heads down International Pits Straight in the latter stages of the race

The #7 Audi heads down International Pits Straight in the latter stages of the race

During the race I took a long counter clockwise walk around the circuit with my brother, enjoying those moments where the wonderful commentary aligned perfectly with what we are seeing immediately in front of us. We were never alone in our wanders, unlike some previous years, reminding us of just how well the race was attended (around 45,000 over the weekend).

I was glad that the forecasts of a dry race were largely correct as I had no desire to repeat the race shortening drenching of 2014, though the wind was pretty gusty throughout and made every layer a necessity!

Overall, this was a marvellous race and testament to the excitement of endurance racing. The next race in the championship comes from Spa on 2nd May. I wonder if it can live up to today’s race!?