There would be less speculation in the GTE classes though, with Aston Martin Racing dominating proceedings in both the GTE Pro and GTE Am classes, former Formula 1 pilot Bruno Senna making a good start to his endurance racing career with victory alongside Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner in the #97 Vantage GTE. Allan Simonsen, Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard completed a good day for the British marque by bringing the #95 Vantage home one lap ahead of the #91 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR.
In the closing stages however, all eyes were on Allan McNish in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro on pitroad. A shake of the helmet said it all. He’d made a big mistake attempting to lap a backmarker on the slick track surface, spinning the Audi and flatspotting his tyres in a double whammy of bad luck. Cue a pit stop for fresh rubber that would drop him almost forty seconds back from the sister #1 R18 in the lead, and with only thirty minutes of the race remaining. An impossibility, surely.
But just as the weekend had already proven that motorsport is far from predictable, a series of blindingly quick laps from McNish saw the #2 machine slice the deficit to ribbons. Benoît Tréluyer in the #1 Audi (which had started its title defence well by topping the opening free practice session at Silverstone) on old rubber couldn’t afford another pitstop. Lapierre’s gamble to switch the #7 Toyota to intermediates in the foul weather hadn’t panned out, and pushing the R18 would only result in Tréluyer’s Michelins falling off the cliff. Strive on, and hope for a mistake from the Scotsman.
McNish though was not about to make another. Fastest lap after fastest lap fell by the wayside as the former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner hauled his car back into contention. From the outset, Audi Sport Team Joest had confirmed that team orders were not viable, and as the lead Audis entered the final stretch now with just car lengths between them, no doubt Tréluyer was starting to wish they did.
A second place finish straight off the bat was certainly a solid way for Tréluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler to start their title defence, but there was no stopping McNish at Silverstone. Entering Brooklands with just four laps to go, McNish took a dive down the inside of the lead Audi, and made it stick. The Scot ultimately through to take a sensational World Endurance Championship victory at Silverstone for both himself and teammates Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval, and lead a 1-2 for Audi, just ahead of the Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi in the Toyota TS030 Hybrid.
Upsetting the formbook might not be as easy as Toyota had hoped in 2013.