Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard completed a World Endurance Championship hat-trick Sunday as they led a dominant Porsche one-two in Mexico City to extend their lead in the championship points.
Porsche was never threatened by LMP1 rival Toyota over the course of the six-hour race, the two 919 Hybrids finishing a lap clear of the Japanese cars. The margin in favor of the championship leaders over teammates Nick Tandy, Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani was just seven seconds at the end of the 6 Hours of Mexico.
The lead for the Hartley car had been as much as nearly half a minute after Lotterer had to take drive-through penalty after a problem with the pitlane limiter led to a speeding offense for Tandy, but Jani cut a 20 second deficit to Bernard in half over the course of the final stint as the German driver backed off.
The drive-through and a change of fuel flow meter for the winning car were the only hiccups encountered by Porsche as it followed up on its victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and the Nurburgring in July.
The Toyota TS050 Hybrid was not competitive in Mexico City, the car lacking downforce at the high-altitude track.
The No. 8 entry that finished third in the hands of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson went a lap down just three hours and 20 minutes into the race. They didn't quite have the pace of teammates Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi who looked on course to take the final spot on the podium, but Toyota opted to change tires when not necessary during late splash-and-dash fuel stop to ensure its best-placed crew in the championship finished ahead.
The Anglo-Swiss Rebellion Racing squad took its first LMP2 victory with the best of its pair of ORECA-Gibson 07 seconds driven by Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal. Senna came through from third on the grid to build up a 30-second lead in the early stages and Nicolas Prost and then Julien Canal maintained first position apart from a brief period in the penultimate hour.
Ben Hanley moved into the lead in the best of the Manor ORECAs and Senna had a quick spin as he strived to catch the Briton. But Senna moved back into the lead when Hanley had to take tires at the Manor car's final pitstop.
Hanley, who shared with Matt Rao and Jean-Eric Vergne, looked destined to take second after passing Nicolas Lapierre in the Signatech Alpine ORECA, only to spin in the closing stages. That allowed the Signatech car, co-driven by Gustavo Menezes and Andre Negrao, to take second place, 25 seconds behind Senna.
Aston Martin claimed GTE Pro honors with Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim. Their Vantage GTE battled with the Ferrari 488 GTE shared by Sam Bird and Davide Rigon for much of the race and was in the lead when it stopped under a full-course yellow virtual safety car with just over an hour to go.
Thiim trailed the Ferrari, which ended up making one pitstop fewer, to the flag by just eight tenths of a second, but the Italian car had already been awarded a 10 second time penalty for speeding during the full course yellow. That gave Sorensen and Thiim the victory by just over 9 seconds when the results were adjusted.
No one else was in contention in GTE Pro, Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz ending up a lap down in third in the best of the factory Porsche 911 RSRs.
The GTE Am class was won by the Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR shared by Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli, who finished a lap ahead of the Aston Martin Vantage GTE shared by Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.
By Gary Watkins
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