The third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship Superseason arrived in the Northamptonshire countryside at the tail end of a prolonged heatwave which had broken barely a week earlier. The event that has seen snow showers in the past has moved back to its traditional summer slot which, whilst the recent oppressive heat was gone, meant the spectators no longer resembled an army of Arctic explorers and there was business aplenty for the ice cream vans.
As well as the prospect of warm weather, the addition of two Formula 1 World Champions also went some way to boosting the crowd numbers which was put at 60,240 over the weekend. Fernando Alonso was looking to continue his dominance in the championship so far whilst Jenson Button was just hoping for a trouble free race. Unfortunately both would be disappointed, Button within the first hour following technical problems with the SMP car and Alonso following post-race scrutineering.
Wherever it is in the calendar controversy never seems far away from the Silverstone round and 2018 has proved to be no different to its predecessors. In previous years Audi have been stripped of their race win following post-race scrutineering but whatever Audi can do Toyota aim to do better.
With their cars taking first and second at the chequered flag post-race technical checks found that both the number 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima and the number 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López were in non-conformity of the LMP1-H technical regulations which covers the deflection of the skid block and both cars were disqualified from the results.
This handed the race win to the number 3 Rebellion Racing R13 Gibson of Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche which had finished some 4 laps behind the Toyotas. The number 1 sister Rebellion of Neel Jani and André Lotterer claimed second position and third place went to the number 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER of Stéphane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev.
The controversy didn’t end with the LMP1 class as GTE Pro also saw a post-race disqualification. The class was won by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi who capitalised on their tyre and fuel saving strategy in the early phase of the race which allowed them to take control in the penultimate hour.
Taking second place at the flag was the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz who fought back from a difficult qualifying session which had them starting from the back of the LMGTE Pro grid. However, following post-race scrutineering the number 91 Porsche was disqualified due to failing the minimum ground clearance measurement test.
This moved the number 67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx up to second place after a bruising final few minutes where the Ford battled with the number 91 Porsche. The number 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre finished fourth on the track but was promoted to the final podium position.
Aston Martin Racing finished the LMGTE Pro race in fourth position with a much stronger performance from the new model Vantage with Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin whilst the ‘Dane train’ number 95 sister car of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim finished many laps down following technical issues.
LMP2 and LMGTE AM suffered no controversy as the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibsons number 38 and number 37 came home in first and second place ahead of the number 36 Signatech Alpine.
Porsche were successful in LMGTE AM with the Dempsey Proton Racing car of Christian Reid, Julien Andlaur and Matt Campbell taking the win ahead of the TF Sport Aston Martin of Salih Yoluç, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam. Behind them the Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy was holding onto third almost to the end but the Team Project 1 Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister was a car length behind with a lap and a half to go and as they rounded Copse for the final time the Aston Martin lost momentum as it was passed by an LMP1 which gave the initiative to the Porsche in the run down to Maggots and Becketts.