With the lone Toyota crashing out early, it was clear sailing for Audi, which took a commanding 1-2 victory in Sunday’s Six Hours of Sao Paulo, the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler made up ground in the title race with their second win of the year, following a flawless performance for the diesel-powered hybrid prototype.
Fassler crossed the line a hefty three laps ahead of the Le Mans-winning No. 2 Audi of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval in second, which was delayed in the fourth hour with a loose wheel and subsequent pair of pit lane penalties.
The story of the day, however, came in the opening hour when the contending No. 8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Stephane Sarrazin crashed out after getting hit by a LMP2 class Lotus. Despite a valiant effort by the Frenchman, who climbed out and ripped bodywork away from the car, he was unable to get the damaged prototype back to the pits.
It was a devastating blow for Toyota, which scored zero points in the World Championship and puts the Japanese manufacturer at a significant deficit heading into the next round at the Circuit of The Americas later this month.
“I think it was quite a strange race,” said winner Fassler. “When you see what happened, already with the Toyota quite early and then later with our sister car, I think it was a little bit of a pity for the race. But at least in the end our car won and we had no problems.”
Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer have now climbed to within 22 points of their championship-leading teammates heading into COTA.
With Toyota’s DNF, the No. 13 Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 Toyota of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche completed the podium in third, as the only LMP1 privateer in the field.
It marked the Anglo-Swiss squad’s first overall podium finish in the WEC.
LMP2 class honors went to G-Drive Racing by Delta-ADR, following an equally dominant run for the No. 26 Oreca 03-Nissan of John Martin, Mike Conway and Roman Rusinov.
The pole-sitting entry of Martin crossed the line 1 lap ahead of Bertrand Baguette’s No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan, who finished second with co-drivers Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez.
OAK nearly had a double podium finish but its No. 24 entry of Olivier Pla suffered suspension failure with just over an hour to go, dropping them to a sixth place result in class.
Nic Minassian, Pierre Kaffer and Luis Perez Companc came home third in their Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan.
While one of its Ferraris went up in flames in dramatic fashion, AF Corse notched another GTE-Pro class victory for its No. 51 entry of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Bruni held off a hard-charging No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Darren Turner by just 1.41-seconds for his second class victory of the season. The No. 91 Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet and Joerg Bergmeister made it three different manufacturers in the top-three.
AF Corse’s Toni Vilander escaped injury after his No. 71 Ferrari erupted in flames from an apparent fuel leak in the second hour. The inferno, which destroyed the rear of the Prancing Horse, resulted in the second and final safety car period of the race.
GTE-Am class honors went to Aston Martin Racing’s Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall, who took a 45.690-second victory over the No. 81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari of Enzo Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and new recruit Davide Rigon in second.
Campbell-Walter inherited the lead with 1 hour and 12 minutes remaining after the then class-leading No. 95 Aston Martin of Kristian Poulsen ground to a halt on track without a right-rear wheel.
It resulted in a DNF for the all-Danish Aston Martin, which had a commanding performance in its comeback race following the death of Allan Simonsen at Le Mans.
The No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche completed the class podium, with Christian Reid narrowly holding off the the position over the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Raymond Narac.
The WEC’s second trip to South America at the famed Interlagos circuit saw a three-day attendance of 38,000 spectators.