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FIA WEC: Circuit of the Americas, GTE Qualifying, AF Corse Win Strategy Battle, New Prospeed 911 in Am


The GTE qualifying session started with light rain falling at points around the circuit, with the middle part of the lap, and in particular the hairpin at T11, fairly wet.

It was the GTE cars up first and the session that transpired saw some differing and inspired strategy as the teams tussled for tactical advantage in what proved to be changing conditions.

Gimmi Bruni found the conditions tricky, his initial lap times looking uncompetitive, but the team realising that the track condition were improving quickly. They opted to pit the World Champion after two flying laps and put Vilander out as soon as possible.


That left the factory Porsches, and the factory Aston Martins trading lap times, the times coming down quickly as the majority of the circuit started to dry.

Patrick Pilet was the early pace setter in the #92 Porsche with Jorg Bergmeister not too far back, but the Porsches soon found themselves under pressure from the #97 Aston Martin, Stefan Mucke the first man out in the lead factory Vantage.

Fred Makowiecki and Nick Tandy found themselves able to improve the times for the factory 911s but the #97 Aston Martin was quicker still, Darren Turner grabbing the advantage, provisional pole for the Aston Martin.

Now though the strategic pendulum began to swing back. AF Corse pulled the #51 458 back in to put Bruni back aboard and the quick turnaround saw the car with just enough time to post a pair of flying laps, Bruni passing the line to start his final flier with just 25 seconds to spare. It was enough, with the track still improving, for a dramatic enough improvement on the first pair of fliers to catapult the #51 to pole position with a four lap average of 2:06.456, more than half a second up on the Aston Martin.

Tricky conditions, nifty pitwork and clever strategy, this was a session that showed the very best of the WEC qualifying format.

GTE Am saw a not too dissimilar story, though the attempt by Aston Martin racing to do the same as AF Corse, putting Richie Stanaway back out to post a late improvement on his earlier times in the Championship leading #95 Vantage , fell a tenth short of the ultimate mark set by the Prospeed Competiton pair of Matthieu Vaxevierre and Manu Collard, the Belgian team opting to leave their young charger out for a longer stint in their new Porsche 911 RSR before leaving Collard to attack the drier track at the end of the session.


It was just enough, their average of 2:08.271 enough to see off the Aston challenge with the #61 Ferrari a more distant third.