Winners disqualified in WEC season-opener

Weekend racing wrap

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The World Endurance Championship kicked off in dramatic style at the Six Hours of Silverstone as all three leading LMP1 teams suffered problems with at least one of their cars – and the race winner was disqualified.

There was also dispute over the winner at IndyCar’s third round of the season in Long Beac hafter the stewards handed down a surprisingly light sanction for a pit lane infraction.

Formula Renault 3.5 reappeared as Formula V8 3.5 and its first race weekend at the Motorland Aragon in Spain saw two different race winners. The World Rallycross Championship also began in Portugal.

There was also tin-top action with the V8 Supercars racing at Phillip Island, the World Touring Cars at the Solvakiaring, and the British series at Donington Park.

World Endurance Championship

Race 1 of 9: Silverstone

Audi initially took the win in the first WEC round at Silverstone courtesy of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. However the number seven car failed a post-race technical inspection which found excessive plank wear on the underside of the car and was disqualified.

That handed victory to the Porsche of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb – however Audi has served notice of its intention to appeal the decision.

Porsche had been within six seconds of Audi before suffered a puncture which forced their second pit stop in three laps and left a final margin of 46 seconds.

A major talking point was a crash involving the Porsche of Brendon Hartley, who collided with the Gulf Racing Porsche GTE Am car, pitching the prototype up into the air and almost rolling. Meanwhile the number eight Audi came to mechanical grief under the ensuing full course yellow and the number five Toyota was delayed by a right-rear puncture.

The Morand Ligier of Ricardo Gonzalez, Felipe Albuquerque and Bruno Senna won the LMP2 class, GTE Pro and GTE Am both went the way of Ferrari with Davide Rigon and Sam Bird and Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas respectively.


Race 3 of 16: Long Beach

Simon Pagenaud’s first victory as a Penske driver was overshadowed by a controversial call by the race stewards on his final pit stop. Scott Dixon was bearing down on Pagenaud as the race leader emerged from the pits and the Penske clearly cut the line marking the pit exit. However the points leader was let off with a warning – a decision which guaranteed him victory.

Helio Castroneves had led the majority of the race but lost the lead to Dixon after Ganassi played a tactical blinder by pulling him in for an early pit stop when the leader his traffic.


Round 2 (Races 3-4 of 24): Slovakia Ring

As in the opening round Hugo Valente took the reverse-grid pole position but got away poorly, dropping to fourth. Tiago Monteiro won the first race (see first video) for Honda ahead of the independently-run Citroen of Mehdi Bennani and Honda team mate Rob Huff.

Citroen’s Jose Maria Lopez took race two (above right) honours from third on the grid, ahead of pole-sitting team-mate Yvan Muller and Nicky Catsburg. Lopez took the lead at the start, but was later overtaken by Catsburg, but not before the Lada driver made contact with Muller dropping the Frenchman behind Monteiro. Late on Catsburg struggled on old tyres, leaving a thrilling last lap where both Lopez and Monteiro got past.

The second running of the MAC3 lap time contest arguably provided the best action of the weekend, with Honda and Citroen setting exactly the same lap time and receiving ten manufacturers’ points each.

World Rallycross Championship

Race 1 of 12: Portugal

Petter Solberg started 2016 in the same vein as 2015 with a win in Portugal, after a thrilling final ahead of Robin Larsson and Topi Heikkinen. Sebastien Loeb finished his WRX debut in fifth for Peugeot, while DTM regular Mattias Ekstrom and last year’s frontrunner Timmy Hansen both went out in the semi-finals.

Ford Focus RS made its debut, with Andreas Bakkerud finishing 4th and Ken Block failing to progress from the qualifying heats, while the SEATs of Reinis Nitiss and Rene Munnich both failed to go through as well.


Race 3 of 12: Long Beach

Siblings Ricky and Jordan Taylor shared the top step in Long Beach and defended their 2015 victory as Chevrolet swept the podium. Christian Fittipaldi lined up on pole position but was beaten into turn one by Ricky Taylor, yet finished second with Joao Barbosa. Eric Curran and Dane Cameron completed the podium in third.

V8 Supercars

Round 3 (races 6-7 of 33): Phillip Island

Scott McLaughlin dominated at Phillip Island, winning both races as he looks to bounce back from a miserable 2015 campaign. He led from the start and saw off Chaz Mostert at turn one to hold a lead he never relinquished and take the first non-Holden victory of the season. Jamie Whincup was second with Mostert set for third until a last lap puncture lost him twenty places in half a tour, Fabian Coulthard snatching the podium.

McLaughlin eased to a second victory in race two despite a late safety car, which was followed by an error from Whincup while trying to take the lead, dropping him to fourth. Reigning champion Mark Winterbottom inherited second while Scott Pye took the third step.


Race 8 of 36: Bristol

Carl Edwards took the victory at Bristol from pole position as Dale Earnhardt Jr recovered from falling two laps behind to take second place. Kurt Busch, Chase Elliot and Trevor Bayne filled the top five in a race that included 7 seven leaders and 15 cautions, including one for Kyle Busch who hit the wall on lap 258.

Formula V8 3.5

Round 1 (Races 1-2 of 18): Aragon

Reigning Formula Renault NEC champion Louis Deletraz took the first ever win in the new Formula V8 3.5 series in the opening race after pole sitter Egor Orudzhev skidded off on the first lap. Matthieu Vaxiviere moved up eight places to second on the first lap and stayed there to the finish. Force India tester Alfonso Celis lost the final podium position to AVF team mate Tom Dillmann.

Deleztraz’s hopes of another win in race two ended when he tangled with Vaxiviere at the start but he recovered brilliantly to take fifth place. He shares the points lead with Aurelien Panis – another son of a former F1 driver – who beat pole sitter Dillmann off the line and went on to win the race. Rene Binder completed the race two podium.


Round 2 (Races 4-6 of 30): Donington Park

Video not available yet

Mat Jackson took the opening win at Donington Park after the race was red flagged due to beached cars and a Subaru ablaze on the pit straight. Front row pair Ash Sutton and team mate Josh Cook struggled off the line, allowing Jackson into a lead he never relinquished. Collard followed through past Sutton and later took second from Cook while Ingram replicated the moves and was up to third, therefore completing the podium when the red flag was shown.

Collard took race two honours ahead of Jackson and Aron Smith after another action packed race. The BMW got the usual quick getaway, moving into third behind Jackson and Ingram into Redgate. Mat Jackson tried to control the pace from the front following the early safety car, but behind Collard was working his way through the podium placings, eventually picking off Jackson to take victory.

Matt Neal won from Gordon Shedden in a Honda 1-2 in race three to be the sixth winner in six races this season. Tordoff finished third from pole after he and team-mate Jack Goff – both on the soft tyre – led from the line. Just past mid distance, Goff’s pace dropped off allowing both Hondas to pass, and he eventually fell to 6th. The Hondas then set about Tordoff, taking the top two spots just two laps from the end.

Formula Virtual (2015 season)

Race 15 of 16: Shanghai

Tumo Kinnumen took his and his Westwood teams first career victory ahead of temporary team mate Nathaniel Powers, but not before Powers was knocked out of the lead by back marker Hiroto Nakumaya, hitting his team mate and lightly damaging both their front wings while recovering. Behind them however was Franklin’s Elroy Wagner, who beat reigning champion team mate Enrique Ruiz to the line and wrapped up the 2015 drivers’ title as a result.

For more information on Formula Virtual, visit the forum topic: Formula Virtual World Championship

Also last weekend

Nico Rosberg kept up his 100% winning record in 2016 with victory in China, extending his consecutive win streak to six. Sebastian Vettel recovered to second after hitting team mate Kimi Raikkonen at turn one with Daniil Kvyat completing the podium. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton finished seventh after starting from last due to an MGU-H failure in qualifying and a collision at turn one with Felipe Nasr.

Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Next weekend Indycar, Formula V8 3.5, NASCAR and WTCC run again and the Super Formula championship – complete with McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne – kicks off for 2016. Euro F3 support the WTCC at the Hungaroring, Formula E run in Paris for the first time, the WRC heads to Argentina after a long break, and the 2015 Formula Virtual season ends in Fuji, Japan.

Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.

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24 comments on “Winners disqualified in WEC season-opener”

  1. It was a good weekend of racing but three hours in the WEC Hartley ruined what seemed a great victory for the #1. Not how I pictured Webbers first race as a world champion. That being said he overtook both Audi’s in moves that F1 drivers can only dream off and had brilliant pace compared to the number 2, which hasn’t always been the case in 2015.

    I also heard Porsche did a ‘dirty’ thing to the Corvette in the Long Beach race but have yet to see any footage of it. Anyone?

    The Formula Virtual is kinda out of place here if you ask me.

    1. What happened was that one of the Porsche cars hit the back of the class leading Corvette in the dying laps, causing them to spin out. That incident then allowed the other Porsche entry to pass both cars to take the victory.

      I believe the incident you are referring to is this one

      1. Oh, I understood it was the ‘ramming’ Porsche that took the victory. The crash was very clumsy but that’s hardly his teammates fault. What should he have done, wait on the side?

        1. PorscheF1, I believe that the reason for the controversy is because the Porsche which collided with the class leading Corvette (No. 912) wasn’t actually fighting for the position at the time – that car finished the race in 7th place in class. From what I have seen, the actions of the class winning drivers are not being questioned at all – the questions revolve more around why the other car in his team was getting involved with the class leader when he wasn’t fighting for position with him.

      2. RaceProUK (@)
        18th April 2016, 20:32

        Is it just me, or does that #912 also stop in a way that prevents the #4 from recovering for a while? I don’t know how tight the turning circle is on a GT Vette, but it looked like he was almost pinned against the wall by the Porsche.

  2. I can’t believe Pagenaud didn’t get more of a penalty. Probably the worst race officiating I’ve ever seen. It’s put a question mark over watching the rest of the Indy car season, to be honest.

    1. Don’t worry, buddy. Many of Indycar fans weren’t amused either.

    2. Dixon, Sato, and Kanaan all cut the pit exit at points of the race. If they’d let that slide but forced Pagenaud to do a drive-thru penalty, it’d be like the refs in a football game letting everyone play on and then deciding to book people in stoppage time in the second half. Which would be even worse.

    3. @rjoconnell I didn’t see any of those – do you remember roughly when they happened in the race, I’d like to take a look.

      1. And Max Chilton cutting the corner at turn 5 and driving on the inside of the curb 3 times before officials gave him a warning. I think the Indycar officials need to up there game.

  3. My God was it tense in Parc Ferme at Silverstone. I was marshaling that event at Copse, but ended up providing fire cover whilst fuel samples were taken. We had to stay until scrutineering ended… at 11pm. Luckily the clerk of the course bought us a takeaway… which we ate next to the no. 7 Audi. I watched the outcome being pinned to the notice board: racing history being made.

  4. Just a note regarding the inclusion of Formula Virtual on this:

    As a few of you are probably aware it is a series run primarily on this very forum using the rFactor2 game, so yes, this is a little bit of a plug, but with good reason. We’re trying to promote a little bit more interest in it spectator wise and I feel this race can really do that. It’s a cracker and a great championship decider, and it’s also racing that took place over the weekend, so it kind of fits? I also ran this past Keith first, so it’s not a totally self-decided inclusion. I’d appreciate people’s thoughts. If the majority don’t like it, I’ll happily not include it in future, but I urge you to give it a try. The racing’s pretty good and fairly interesting most of the time, and the commentators are just top quality (yes, I am blowing my own trumpet!)

    1. Have to admit I was a little miffed at first, not realizing the connection. Considering there’s world championships in sim racing like iRacing handing out 10k in prize money, I kinda figured that if this feature were to start reporting on virtual racing, it’d include things such as that and whatever Sony is doing with Gran Turismo these days. I guess it makes more sense knowing it’s the one this forum has been running for a few years now. But I think if this is mentioned, I’d like to see the big time sim racing stuff covered as well.

      1. good point there @joey-poey.

    2. I quite like the idea and think the racing is pretty good. It does seem a bit funny in how it shows (or rather not really shows) overtakes. And if you could make say a 5-10 minute short version with the most juicy bits, I am pretty sure I would watch that regularly @bradley13.

      As always thanks a lot for the work in the weekly overview too!

    3. What cars are these, btw?
      The simulation looks quite realistic, although the pitstops still look a bit weird and the curbstones send the cars airborne a bit too much I think. Perhaps the dirty air and slipstream effect should be enhanced a bit.

      1. @f1infigures Modded F1 2010 IIRC.

        1. Nope, it’s rFactor 2.

  5. RaceProUK (@)
    18th April 2016, 20:42

    The highlight of the WEC race for me was the Calado and Bruni recovery drive, not just from last place on the grid but also the three-minute stop-go to finish second in class.
    I was also in the Village grandstand for the Hartley accident. It was spectacular; thankfully, both drivers walked away without harm.

    It was a great opening round; can’t wait till Spa in a few weeks’ time :)

  6. Gelael, Giovinazzi, & Evans finished fifth in ELMS Silverstone.

  7. I’m quite ok with it but if you’re goin,g to do e-racing wrap up, you might as well do a dedicated week wrap on the top e-racing events. I’d happily read that.

  8. What racing did I watch this weekend? None. Live in a small town miles from nowhere. No cable, tried satellite, it sucks. All my racing comes on line. I’d love to find a WEC feed but can’t, tried watching IMSA, but it’s only for Fox Sports viewers. IMSA has brief feeds, but at Sebring they stopped their online feed with 45 minutes to go. Man, that sucks. Sometimes I can catch F1, but of late that is boring. If anyone has a clue how to watch WEC or IMSA on line, please post some guidelines.

  9. And with just under half an hour to go for the WEC race my DVR stops recording prematurely.


  10. Michael Brown (@)
    19th April 2016, 22:03

    The title’s kind of spoilery. A better title would be “Major disqualification in WEC.”

    Also, who noticed the digital lights on the side of th Indycars that display the car’s position and pit stop time? I think F1 could benefit from that. Blancpain GT also uses a digital display on the cars as well.

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