Wednesday, 10 April 2013

2013 World Endurance Championship Season Preview

Audi will be front runners
The 2013 World Endurance Championship (WEC) gets underway this weekend with the 6 Hours of Silverstone. Audi will once again be looking to come out on top after winning the 6 Hours of Silverstone on the way to claiming the WEC crown in 2012.

Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler return to the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype after a victorious 2012 campaign where they claimed victory at Le Mans, Silverstone and Bahrain. They will be joined at Audi by the experienced duo of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen in addition to Loic Duval, Marc Gene and Lucas di Grassi. Audi's main threat comes in the shape of two Toyota TS030 Hybrids and a strong driver lineup brimming with F1 experience. Alex Wurz, Nicholas Lappierre and Kazuki Nakajima return to the No. 7 car whilst Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin will once again pilot the No. 8 P1 entry.

Best of the rest? Rebellion Racing
Away from the manufacturer entries, Switzerland's Rebellion Racing boast one of the strongest driver lineups in the field with Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani and Nick Heidfeld all sharing their main car.Andrea Bellichi, Mathias Beche and Congfu Cheng will drive Rebellion's second Lola Toyota. The British Strakka squad will field a Honda driven by the all British lineup of Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane.

In LMP2, expect to see the main battle between OAK Racing's Morgans and Kodewa's Lotus team. OAK will enter Olivier Pla, Alex Brundle and David Heinemeier Hansson in the No. 24 car and Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez in the No. 35. Meanwhile Lotus field two new T128s. Kevin Weeda, Christophe Bouchut, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Jame Rossiter will share driving duties in the No. 31 with Thomas Holzer, Dominik Kraihamer and Jan Charouz in the 32.

Porsche have a new car for 2013
In GT Pro, Porsche Debut their new 991 based 911 RSR. Porsche will enter as a factory squad supported by seasoned Porsche campaigners Team Manthey, Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Piet, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz all driving. The biggest challenge from the Stuttgart marque will come from AF Corse, the works Ferrari team. Factory drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander all return, they'll be joined by F1 refugee Kamui Kobayashi and an as of yet unnamed driver. Olivier Beretta is expected to join the team at some point however his main focus is in America with Risi Competitzione. AF Corse will be looking to add to their success of 2012 which consisted of class wins in five out of the eight rounds including the Le Mans 24 Hours with Bruni, Fisichella and Vilander taking the class there. Aston Martin also return with two Vantage GTEs, Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke are joined by Bruno Senna in the No. 97; Frederic Makowiecki, Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy share the No. 99 car. Brits Peter Dumbreck and Rob Bell are also expected to make an appearance at some point in the season.

AF Corse will be strong again
Ferrari and Aston Martin's factory programs will also appear in the GT Am class, Jack Gerber, Matt Griffin and Marco Cioci will be in an AF Corse Ferrari 458 whilst there will be two Am cars entered by Aston Martin Racing. Allan Simonsen leads an all Danish lineup in the No. 95 car whilst Roald Goethe of Germany joins Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart hall in their other GT Am entry.

GT Am also includes two Chevrolet Corvettes courtesy of Labre Competition, whilst American squads Krohn and 8Star Motorsports will campaign Ferrari 458s. Porsche will be represented by IMSA Performance Matmut and Proton Competition (No relation to the Malaysian manufacturer).

What is the WEC?

The WEC is one of the FIA premier racing series, alongside F1, WRC and the WTCC. As the name suggests, it is a world championship series with drivers from all over the world competing in eight events in four different continents.


There are 4 separate classes of cars too, LMP1, LMP2, LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am -

LMP1 - The premier class. LMP1 cars are prototype cars with around 550bhp and weighing approximately 900kg. LMP1 cars are also allowed to have hybrid systems.

LMP2 - One step below P1. Again, prototype cars, however despite sharing the same weight limit, the horsepower is lower at 440bhp.

Both GT classes are hotly contested
LMGTE Pro - GT race cars based on road going counterparts. Manufactures such as Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Chevrolet take part in this category with highly modified versions of their best selling sports cars. Horsepower is no more than 500bhp and the cars weigh a minimum of 1245kg. The Pro category features only professional drivers in each car. 

LMGTE Am - Exactly the same as the Pro category except only one professional driver is allowed per car.


Besides the 24 Hours of Le Mans, points are awarded in the same way as the other FIA World Championships, from first to tenth, 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1. Every driver outside the top ten who completes the race is also awarded half a point. Teams and manufactures are also awarded in this way in every class

For Le Mans, the points system changes to  50, 36, 30, 24, 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2 with a point going to every driver outside the top ten who completes the race.

Changes from 2012

As with every international racing series, the WEC has introduced some changes to the regualtions for this season.

First of all, with qualifying, now two drivers per car must set two timed laps each, with an average time being taken from the four laps to determine the qualifying time. Pre-race warm ups are now a thing of the past unless a situation arises where stewards see extra practice time as necessary.

Lotus have constructed a new P2 car
In LMP2, a host of changes have come into force to reduce costs. the number of engines per car has been limited, the price of upgrade kits for teams wishing to continue using 2012 cars is also restricted. Performance updates for P" cars will also be balanced across the class throughout the season.

An additional World Cup will be awarded to the GT drivers as well as the P1 class this year and P2 and GT Am drivers will also be awarded FIA trophies for the first time.

The calendar has also been changed in order to maximise the use of sea shipping and to reduce costs, hence the 6 Hours of Silverstone's change to an April date from an August one last year.

Images have been taken from various sources across the internet. No copyright infringement is intended. Any images can be removed upon request.

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