Silverstone – WEC Round 1
It’s April and I’ve only watched one of the four Grand Prix this year.
Not that my enthusiasm for Motor Sport has dimmed.
Last year I spent an enthralling 6 hours watching Toyota win at Silverstone, and 9 days ago was back for more.
The World Endurance Championship is all about racing; celebrity bling, politics, and hype all take a back seat.
There are 3 main categories LMP1 – Le Mans Prototypes – Type 1. These are incredibly sophisticated machines fielded by major manufacturers, featuring a variety of complex hybrid systems to compliment traditional combustion engines.
There’s no set engine size, and Audi use diesel technology, whilst Porsche and Toyota run petrol powered units.
Independents can race in every category, but struggle to compete in this “Big Hitters” class. I missed last years beautiful Rebellion machines, which were present throughout 2014.
Next up there’s the LMP2 – Le Mans Prototypes – Type 2. Last year this class was dominated by bespoke open racing cars, with a trend towards enclosed coupes emerging throughout the season. These are serious machines which can be bought for pocket money!
370,000 – 450,000 euros may sound expensive, especially as it doesn’t include an engine, but it’s not such a big investment when you consider the cars can perform on a World Stage, and attract ex F1 drivers.
Lastly there’s the Le Mans GTE class which is based on mainstream sports cars which you can buy from your local dealer. Although the machines raced are nowhere near standard, and include factory teams from Porsche, and equally capable outfits from Ferrari, Chevrolet and Aston Martin.
The latter class is split between Professional and Amateurs, although the GTE/Am class still attracts seriously good drivers.
Now that cigarette advertising has been banned the majority of the cars seem to attract some sort of advertising from prestigious watch brands.
Sadly they can’t quite match the investment seen by Rothmans, Silk Cut, Camel and Skoal Bandit, and this combined with live TV coverage means the European rounds of the series perform in front of surprisingly few spectators.
This year we left the car park without even queueing for a moment. In the good old days it would take around 90 minutes to reach the main road.
The main interest centres on the big 3 factory team. Sadly the Nissan factory effort hasn’t done well in testing, and won’t be ready until June.
Here are the cars fighting for overall honours.
Last year Toyota took the honours.
My favourite driver Anthony Davidson was in the No.1 car, with the ex Torro Rosso Sebastian Buemi as a co-driver.
The straight talking Mark Webber was on better form this year, hustling the slippery Porsche 919 with great effect before it suffered arrive train failure.
Through Becketts he was pushing harder than anybody, with the car stepping out of line on entry to the essex lap after lap.
The races may last 6 Hours, but they’re still run at a sprint.
Last year’s Audis were both out of the running before the race really got going. This year they were much more effective.
The upgraded machines were the fastest of all through the bends, and Lotterer’s No.7 car took overall honours ahead of the No.18 Porsche, and No.1 Toyota.
After six hours the top three cars were separated by just 15 seconds.
Out of 29 starters and six hours 26 were still running at the end. For Grand Prix fans who pay over £150 for a dismal view of no more than 20 cars in a procession the WEC represents great value. £40 for an all day pass an a choice of Grandstand seating. That’s what I call value.
It’s April and