The blue, ocean like, Texan sky welcomed us to the magnificent Circuit of The Americas. As the crowds sauntered around this wonderful place the excited hum began to build in the stands as much as it did in the garages. Some drivers were commenting that the opening laps were going to be difficult due to the heat and the tyres.
That was going to be the issue, in and out of the car. The heat. A baking day and one can only imagine how it felt flying round the circuit.
From qualifying, the talk was of the Audi’s and how they were going to dominate the race. Duval pushing Webber, but Toyota were not going to let the two leading P1 teams have it all their own way. Buemi and Conway giving everything they had, leaving nothing on the track. This was just the start!
Back in the GT ranks, the home crowd were hoping for Ford to perform at home but it wasn’t to be with the #66 having early issues so it was left to Aston Martin and Ferrari to battle it out. Manor were charging early in P2 but it would end in tears for the British team.
All over the track, throughout the six hours there were mini battles going on all over the place. It was very reminiscent of Mexico, a continuation of the hard working determination that has existed all season.
The 6 Hours of CoTA has always been a fantastic arena for these monster machines and their gladiators. A spectacle of wonder and an atmosphere to match.
It would also be a repeat of Mexico for Audi, a sad duplication of disappointment for the team who genuinely believed they could have locked out the top two positions. Reigning champions Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley would be the drivers standing victorious on the top step of the podium, taking their third consecutive victory of the season. The #8 Audi and #6 Toyota would stand on the podium, Toyota taking advantage of the woes that befell the #7 Audi over the six hours.
The #13 Rebellion would celebrate their privateer victory with Tuscher, Kraihamer and Imperatori leading that class. Signatech Alpine grabbed their fourth win of the season as Lapierre, Menezes and Richelmi reaped the spoils. Manor, who had forced the pace early on would retire from the race with twenty two minutes racing to go.
In the GT classes it was all about Aston Martin. The #95 of Sorensen and Thiim took the Pro class with the #98 of Dalla Lana and Lauda taking victory in the Am. Abu-Dhabi-Proton Racing would see their race finish with one hour and six minutes remaining as the car was retired and pushed back into the garage.
The Circuit of The Americas blows a kiss as the WEC adventure moves on to Japan and the 6 Hours of Fuji. We, as fans, love it here in Texas. The warm welcome, the hospitality and the exciting racing. We embrace The Lone Star Le Mans as it has quickly become one of the favourite venues on the racing calendar.
It was as the Texan sun dipped down and moved on to another part of the world that darkness came and the circuit took on a whole new, albeit as beautiful, lease of life. The glowing Texan moon now stared down at the mechanical monsters competing far below on the winding path to glory, or not in some cases.
Thank you for having us CoTA and we’ll see you soon.
What a fantastic six hours that was.
Photo Credits: (c) FIA WEC