The Porsche LMP1 team scored the perfect result in Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with a 1-2 finish for the two 919 Hybrids. In the GTE Pro class, Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki (#91 911 RSR) crossed the line in third place. The #77 911 RSR of Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst were the winners in the GTE Am class, with the similar #86 car of Ben Barker, Michael Wainwright and Nick Foster finishing in third place in class.
Mexico was the first race on the calendar after the summer break for all the teams, and it was also the first of the fly-away races, being the fifth of nine rounds of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship. Although this was the second time that Mexico has hosted a WEC round, it is by all accounts, probably the last as Mexico City does not appear on the new-look 2018/19 calendar.
After torrential rain fell earlier in the week which saw the airport closed, flights diverted, major delays for drivers and team members. The first practice session, though, was held on a wet but drying track early Friday evening, and the race itself was run in dry conditions. In the WEC, the average of the two fastest laps of two drivers counts for the qualifying result. Here, Bernhard and Hartley achieved an average time of 1:24.562 minutes in car #2, while Lotterer and Tandy in car #1 managed a time of 1:24.710 min. It was Hartley who set the outright fastest qualifying lap of 1:24.459 minutes which topped last year’s best time of 1:24.763 minutes set by Lotterer in an Audi.
Both Porsche 919 Hybrids started from the front row of the grid at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, named after the brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodríguez. The championship leaders and this year’s Le Mans winners, Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley took pole position on a dry track. It is the 17th pole position for the Porsche 919 Hybrid since its debut in 2014 and the second this year after Jani and Lotterer had been fastest in the Spa qualifying. The last front row lock-out for Porsche dates back to the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hour race. Since Porsche’s return to the top category of Le Mans Prototypes in 2014, the Porsche 919 Hybrid has won 15 races.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl shared his thoughts after qualifying, “The most specific feature is the altitude of 2250m above sea level. Thin air with less oxygen makes appropriate cooling of the power train and brakes difficult and also has a huge influence on aerodynamics. Lower drag leads to less downforce and stability in the corners. On the other hand, top speeds on the 1.2km long straight tend to be high.”
How the race went for car number 1
Tandy started from P2 and stayed on the heels of the leading sister car, refuelling after 40 laps and handing over to Lotterer after 80 laps. Because Tandy had exceeded the pit lane speed limit, Lotterer had to serve a stop-and-go penalty at the end of lap 91 costing around 20 seconds, and causing the car to lose contact with the leading #2 Porsche. Lotterer then refuelled after 120 laps and handed over to Jani after 160 laps who was able to lap the #8 Toyota while still in pit lane. Jani refuelled again after 181 laps and picked up fresh tyres, taking advantage of a full course yellow phase and on lap 190, he also lapped the #7 Toyota. The team again used a full course yellow to refuel after 200 laps. After 237 laps, Jani stopped for a splash of fuel and finished the race three laps later in second position.
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