Audi trio Loic Duval, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen claimed victory at Circuit of The Americas to extend their World Endurance Championship lead.
The No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro triumphed by 23 seconds over the second-placed Toyota TS030 HYBRID shared by Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin and Anthony Davidson.
The Audi was the quicker car, but the Toyota’s ability to double stint its Michelin tires and its better fuel consumption kept Buemi and his teammates in the fight until the closing stages.
McNish said: “It was a surprise, to be honest. They could double stint their tire when we couldn’t.
“The car was fantastic: the guys set it up extremely well given the lack of practice time. We are very, very pleased.”
The second Audi, shared by Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer finished third, two laps down on the sister car. The car lost time when Fassler was forced off line lapping a GTE Pro class Porsche in the opening hour, putting him over one of the pyramid kerbs designed to prevent corner cutting. He was then hit up the rear, which damaged the rear bodywork. That forced an unscheduled pit stop and trip into the garage for repairs.
Lotterer subsequently lost more time when a fuse fell out, almost certainly as a result of the earlier incident.
The result means that Audi has won the WEC manufacturers’ title, presuming that Toyota does not run a second car in each of the final three races, for a second season in a row.
Duval, McNish and Kristensen now lead the drivers standings by 33 points, which means they will win the world championship even if they finish second to their teammates in each of the remaining three races.
The LMP2 division was won for a second race in a row by the G-Drive/Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan 03 driven by John Martin, Roman Rusinov and Mike Conway. They ended up a lap clear of their nearest rival, the Pecom/AF ORECA-Nissan, after its two closest challengers ran into problems.
The two OAK Morgan-Nissan LMP2s had run ahead of the winning G-Drive car during the second stint, but a collision between Ricardo Gonzalez and David Heinemeier Hansson resulted in stays in the pits to repair suspension damage for both cars.
Second place for the Pecom trio of Pierre Kaffer, Luis Perez Companc and Nicolas Minassian was enough to move them to within three points of LMP2 drivers’ leaders, Gonzalez, Bertrand Baguette and Martin Plowman, who finished seventh in class after their delays.
ASTON DOMINATES GT CLASSES
Aston Martin Racing claimed GTE Pro honors with the Vantage driven by Frederic Makowiecki and Bruno Senna.
They were in charge of the class for the full race duration and ended up winning by 15sec over Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella in the best of the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italias.
Makowiecki enjoyed a lead of just over a minute until the closing stages when he took a splash-and-dash fuel stop.
Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall edged a close internecine Aston Martin GTE Am battle. Campbell-Walter overtook Kristian Poulsen, who shared with Nicki Thiim and Christopher Nygaard, to take the victory in the final 15 minutes.
Results - 187 laps:Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. P1 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi 6h00m31.331s 2. P1 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota +23.617 3. P1 Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler Audi +1 lap 4. P1 Prost/Heidfeld/Beche Rellion Lola-Toyota +4 laps 5. P2 Rusinov/Martin/Conway Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan +9 laps 6. P2 Perez Companc/Minassian.Kaffer Pecom ORECA-Nissan +10 laps 7. P2 Holzer/Kraihamer/Charouz Lotus +13 laps 8. P2 Graves/Walker/Junco Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan +14 laps 9. P2 Zugel/Dyson/Kimber-Smith Greaves Zytek-Nissan +15 laps10. P2 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Morgan-Nissan +15 laps11. P2 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Morgan-Nissan +17 laps12. GTE P Senna/Makowiecki Aston Martin +20 laps13. GTE P Bruni/Fisichella AF Ferrari +20 laps14. GTE P Kobayashi/Vilander AF Ferrari +20 laps15. GTE P Lieb/Lietz Manthey Porsche +20 laps16. GTE A Hall/Campbell-Walter Aston Martin +22 laps17. GTE A Nygaard/Poulsen/Thiim Aston Martin +22 laps18. GTE A Narac/Vernay ImsaPorsche +22 laps19. GTE A Potolicchio/Aguas/Malucelli 8Star Ferrari +23 laps20. GTE P Bergmeister/Pilet Manthey Porsche +24 laps21. GTE A Ried/Roda/Ruberti Proton Porsche +24 laps22. GTE A Bornhauser/Canal/Rees Larbre Corvette +24 laps23. GTE A Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Ferrari +25 laps24. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani Krohn Ferrari +31 laps25. P2 Nicolet/Merlin/Maris OAK Morgan-Nissan +39 lapsRetirements: GTE P Mucke/Turner/Gavin Aston Martin 118 laps GTE P Dalla Lana/Lamy/Stanaway Aston Martin 84 laps P2 Weeda/Liuzzi/Rossiter Lotus 0 laps