The 6 Hours of Mexico City was the 5th round of this years FIA World Endurance Championship, and while the weather had been anything by perfect up until race day, the weather would appear from its nice side – at least for the race start.
Since qualifying Saturday, there had been only one change. David Heinemeier Hansson had sped up in the pits with only 1 kph, but got all his times cancelled. That send the Vaillante Rebellion #13 to the back of the field.
The start of the race went perfectly, with all 26 getting safely away.
Vaillante Rebellion #31 took the LMP2 category lead on the second lap, when Bruno Senna outbraked Nico Lapierre in Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 going into Turn one.
Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 had a quick detour over the grass on its second lap, but got back into the same position again.
Pedro Lamy in AMR #98 dived past Christian Ried in Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77, and the former Formula 1 driver quickly pulled away from the experienced, but not quite as fast Silver-ranked driver.
Another battle in the GTE Am category was between Clearwater Racing #61 and Spirit of Race #54, where the latter sneaked past in the stadium section of the track about 20 minutes into the race.
Darren Turner in Aston Martin Racing #97 had to go to the pits with brake issues, and lost 11 laps in the repairs.
Michael Christensen in Porsche #92 made contact with Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61 when he was trying to lap the Singaporean Ferrari. Christensen dived quite late up the inside, and ended up spinning on the tarmac and fell back to P6 in the GTE Pro category. The race stewards decided to hand out a drive-through penalty for #61 for the collision.
David Heinemeier Hansson in Vaillante Rebellion #13 outbraked himself going into Turn 1, in a battle with CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24. One lap later he passed Matt Rao in Manor car.
50 minutes into the race the battle for the lead of GTE Pro between AF Corse #71 and AMR #95 intensified, and the two cars swapped positions a couple of times. Marco Sørensen was tucked under the rear wing of Sam Bird..
One hour into the race, the two Toyota Gazoo Racing cars were battling side by side, with #7 passing #8.
Shortly after, AMR #95 dived past AF Corse Ferrari #71, but lost the lead again only a short time later.
Toyota #8 had to brake extra hard when TDS Racing #28 was go be lapped. Emmanuel Collard turned into the corner like normal, so Sebastien Buemi had to take avoiding action. That gave a warning for the #28.
There was drama just shy of 2 hours into the race, when the LMP2 Championship leading Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 got clutch issues. They couldn’t leave the pits after their second pitstop. They lost 8 laps in total to the leading Vaillante Rebellion #31 before they were back on track.
The two CEFC Manor TRS Racing cars battled over 6th in the LMP2 category – a duel that Jean-Eric Vergne in #24 won over Roberto Gonzalez in #25.
With just over 2 hours run, a war emerged between Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 and G-Drive Racing #26. Gustavo Menezes in #36 defended the position both on and off the track. He was told by Race Control to hand the position back, which he did – only to be very closed at taking out both of the LMP1 Toyota’s! Not the best two minutes in there career of Menezes.
Porsche #1 made the mistake of going too fast in the pits at their second pitstop. They were handed a drive-through penalty for that, which only costed them time to the leading #2, but still well ahead of the Toyotas position wise.
AMR #97 still had issues with the brake and kept going in and out of the pits for 3 more times during the first 2½ hours of the race.
There was big drama in GTE Pro after two and a half hours. AF Corse Ferrari #51 with James Calado and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 with Olivier Pla collided on the track, which cut the wheel on #51 and broke the suspension on #66. The two cars got back to the pits and got their damages fixed, before getting back on track. The stewards decided to give #66 a drive-through penalty for the contact, because they rejoined the track in a unsafe manner. That was followed up by another drive-through penalty for not entering the pits on the right side of a cone marking the pit lane entry.
Shortly before the halfway point in the 6 hour race we saw Matteo Cairoli in Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 overtake the Canadian Paul Dalla Lana in AMR #98, and thus took the lead in the GTE Am category.
Jean-Eric Vergne in #24 grabbed second in LMP2 from Roman Rusinov in #26, at the same time as the two cars were lapped by Porsche #2. Two laps later, Andre Negrao in #36 also made it past the Russian. While all this happened, Julien Canal in #31 was just on a Sunday cruise out in front, with a almost 40 seconds gap after just over 3 hours of the race.
While there wasn’t much racing between Porsche and Toyota in LMP1, the two Toyotas were battling hard but fairly. Jose Maria Lopez in #7 made it past Kazuki Nakajima in #8.
There was more drama at AF Corse Ferrari. When Alessandro Pier Guidi handed over #51 to James Calado, the Brit couldn’t get the car to run in anything by first gear. He had to drive a complete lap, before he was back in the pitlane, where the mechanics could fixed the problem.
After 4 hours of racing and 3 pitstops, the Aston Martin Racing #95 sneaked into the lead of GTE Pro again, when AF Corse Ferrari #71 was a bit slower during their pitstop. Nicki Thiim was able to build a nice gap to Davide Rigon.
With 90 minutes left of the race, CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24 overtook the other ORECA 07 – Gibson Vaillante Rebellion #31 in the fight for first. That was the first time since the race start, that #31 didn’t lead.
Almost simultaneously the other Vaillante Rebellion #13 driven by Nelson Piquet Jr dived past Pierre Thiriet in the G-Drive Racing #26 in the fight for 4th in LMP2.
None of the two Vaillante Rebellion cars could be certain about their positions, since the other competitions were close to them.
There was a short Full Course Yellow due to a Baseball (!) on the track. Race Control used that to remove that one and other pieces of debris from the track.
With one hour left of the race, there was another short FCY period for picking up some Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61 bits. That was all back from the collision with the Porsche #92 earlier in the race, and the Ferrari started to spread pieces on the track.
Vaillante Rebellion #31 has a quick solo spin in P2, before Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 driven by Alex Brundle spun after light contact during an overtaking manoeuvre with Nelson Piquet Jr i #13.
Matteo Cairoli in Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 already had a good lead but Paul Dalla Lana in AMR #98 incurred a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The gap to Nick Foster in Gulf Racing UK #86 however was so big, that there wasn’t any danger in losing second position in the category.
With 45 minutes left of the race it was announced that AF Corse Ferrari #71 had a 10 seconds penalty for their next pitstop, since they had been speeding under FCY. There were the leading car at that moment, so the victory was in serious doubt with AMR #95 only a few seconds behind the red #71.
The threatening rain clouds stayed away, so that didn’t add any spice to to the race.
It made Porsche #2 with Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley crossing the line first in LMP1 ahead of its sister car and Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 ahead of #7.
Vaillante Rebellion #31 won the LMP2 category with Bruno Senna, Julien Canal and Nico Prost ahead of Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 and CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24. It was the first win of the Vaillante Rebellion team in the LMP2 category, after they switched into the category for this year.
Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen won the first victory of the season in the GTE Pro category ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #71, after their time penalty. Porsche #91 finished third.
For the second race in a row, GTE Am finished with Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 driven by Matteo Cairoli, Marvin Dienst and Christian Ried on top, ahead of AMR #98 and Gulf Racing UK Porsche #86.
In the LMP FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship we still have Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard in Porsche #2 leading Kuzuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi in Toyota Gazoo #8.
The LMP2 FIA World Endurance Drivers Trophy we have Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent in Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 leading ahead ofVaillante Rebellion #31 with Bruno Senna, Julien Canal while their teammate Nico Prost is in a lone third, after not competing at the Nürburgring round due to his Formula E clash.
Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 leads in GT FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship ahead of Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz in Porsche #91. Davide Rigon in AF Corse #71 is alone in third, with teammate Sam Bird only half a point behind, since he missed Nürburgring too.
Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli in Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 leads the GT Am FIA World Endurance Drivers Trophy in front of Mathias Lauda, Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy in AMR #98 with Keita Sawa, Matt Griffin and Weng Sun Mok in Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61 in third. While these three teams are within 16 points, there are 41 points down to fourth.
The next round of FIA WEC will be run in 14 days at COTA in Austin, Texas.