The #2 Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber has taken its fourth successive victory in the World Endurance Championship, while Dragon Racing’s new recruit Neel Jani took the #1 Porsche to second place with the help of Nick Tandy and Andre Lotterer at the Circuit of the Americas.
The Swiss driver, who will join Formula E for season four, saw his grip on the LMP1 crown slip further away as he, Tandy and Lotterer conceded the lead following a race-long battle with the sister Porsche.
While the Porsche battle for the top two positions played out, the Toyotas of Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 and Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 were sorting it out for the final podium position, with the #8 coming out on top.
There was late drama in LMP2 class as the long-time race leading #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut of Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao were waved into the pit lane with ten minutes to go due to a fault with one of the brake lights. Having put in an incredible race prior to that point, the #36 was able to pit to repair the fault and retain the lead ahead of the #13 Vaillante Rebellion of Nelson Piquet Jr, Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Completing a stellar day for the Vaillante Rebellion crew was the #31 of Nico Prost, Bruno Senna and Julien Canal who brought their car home third in class for a fifth podium out of six races.
The LMP2 championship leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing machine of Jaguar Racing reserve Ho-Pin Tung, Thomas Laurent and Oliver Jarvis expected more at COTA, but completed a respectable drive to take fourth place and retain their championship lead.
The #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing of Jean-Eric Vergne, Ben Hanley and Matt Rao drove a somewhat anonymous race to finish sixth in class, while the #26 G-Drive Racing of Alex Lynn, Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet endured a miserable day plagued by problems, eventually propping up the LMP2 field.
LMGTE Pro proved to be an unpredictable affair, as four drivers all entertained thoughts of taking the class victory.
DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was in tremendous form in the #71 AF Corse, but team-mate Davide Rigon encountered problems during his final stint and dropped out of the lead to third place.
The sister #51 AF Corse of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi emerged victorious in LMGTE Pro, but suffered a late scare as a puncture threatened their chance of victory. However, Pier Guidi was able to recover to the pits for a tyre change and retained the lead to the flag, leading home the surprisingly quick #92 Porsche of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.
An early challenge came to nothing for the #95 Aston Martin Racing of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen, who led in the early stages but ultimately dropped out of podium contention and ended the race in fourth place.