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FIA WEC: Silverstone, Hour 1 Report, Porsche 1-2 Up Front

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A clean rolling start in fine dry conditions saw Mark Webber keep a firm grip of his pole position into Turn 1, LMP1 retaining grid order with Di Grassi challenging Romain Dumas for second into Aintree as the first lap charge for position got underway.

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Webber’s pace was evident, as was the visible speed of the whole LMP1 field this year, the Porsche pole sitter pulling a 1.4 second gap within a couple of laps and pulling away to establish a 10 second advantage over his team mate. Treluyer’s Audi was struggling at the back of the P1 field, having dropped to 8th place and sounding like it was carrying a misfire. This appeared to clear however as the #7 made up time again, setting fastest sectors on route.

Di Grassi’s Audi was at it with Buemi’s Toyota for third, these two swapping places into Vale and back again at Brooklands. The early order was Porsche , Porsche, Toyota, Audi, Toyota, Audi.

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As the leading Porsches forged ahead, fifteen seconds back down the road two huge LMP1 battles were raging as the Hybrid train began eating into the back markers: Buemi’s Toyota and Treluyer’s Audi for third; Wurz’s Toyota and Di Grassi’s Audi for fifth. The pace of LMP1 was amazing considering the fuel loads, a new lap record had indeed been set by Treluyer on lap 2 : 1:41.742, which would have put the Audi half way up the grid for last year’s British Grand Prix – and this a race lap on nearly full tanks. Webber’s best lap 1:42.012.

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In LMP2 Nick Tandy had jumped the two G-Drive Ligiers, but his advantage was reeled in as the #26 and #28 cars dialled themselves in, retaking the KCMG Oreca despite Tandy defending hard. A little way back, the Ryan Dalziel driven ESM HPD had got up to fourth despite allegedly having touched the ByKolles LMP1 car to put Vitantonio Liuzzi off piste, the car getting back to its garage with floor damage.

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The all-new Strakka Dome had found the gravel at Village, but recovered in the hands of Danny Watts to edge its way back through its lost places.

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GTE- Pro settled into its early close pace with an Aston Martin 1-2-3; further back the #91 Manthey Porsche in the hands of Richard Lietz was improving his lap times though to creep up on the trio, managing to upset the order by taking third from Richie Stanaway. Thiim and Turner in first and second though would prove harder to attack. But it was places fourth to seventh that really caught the attention, the #99 Aston Martin dropping back into the clutches of the Patrick Pilet driven #92 Porsche, which had the two AF Corse Ferraris tied to its tail. Pilet got through first before Bruni and Calado, fighting between themselves for position, demoted the Aston Martin one by one.

In GTE Am Paolo Ruberti’s Larbre Corvette had led Bachler’s Porsche from Collard’s AF Corse Ferrari, less than a second covering these three before Bachler forced the #88 Porsche into the lead.

Martin Little