Check out the flashback video from Mobil 1 The Grid in which Brendon Hartley compares WEC to F1.
Every person has a burning ambition inside them, born from a desire to test their resolve to the ultimate limit. Being able to reach those limits, to go beyond the boundaries, to come face to face with fear like nothing ever experienced before.
Not knowing whether the current lap will be the final chapter in the story. Holding on to every single piece of emotion so much, that the body tenses with every turn. Searching for ‘that’ zone, where the car becomes an extension of the mind through the curves and chicanes.
As the car begins to feel at ease gliding effortlessly through historic parts of the course another, more powerful, force enters the fray as Mother Nature calls upon all of her strength to cast sun, cloud, wind and rain into the dramatic opera. Responding. Reacting. Realising that this is all part of the test. Can the driver adapt and overcome to these powerful elements as the car speeds through treacherous rain on one side of the course to be met by dry conditions in another part?
Day becomes dusk. Dusk gently dissolves into night wrapping it’s cold arms around the circuit as the cars take on a new existence of life. The headlights flash at every turn, brake discs glowing hot in the cold night praying for morning to arrive, a step closer to that final chapter.
The field of gladiators dwindles, some temporarily but for others it is the end of the emotional journey.
On the horizon the first signs of daylight begin to appear as the sun rises to bring the start of a new day to this epic battle of endurance and speed. Drivers on the limit for every second of every minute of every hour.
There are no losers, not in this story, just the chosen men and women taking a journey into a world that few will ever experience. The crowd are roaring with delight, gasping at horrific crashes and applauding every driver that passes their vantage point. It is a distant respect of honour.
The excitement building to a crescendo of tears, laughter and sadness. To be victorious in unfavourable circumstances, humble in the disappointment of defeat and sombre at the loss of those who never returned from the journey.
Fireworks exploding along the grid as the hero crosses the line with the cast of equal heroes parading behind, every single one playing their part to perfection in this epic tale.
It is remembering why they do this, the reason that every single driver gambles with their life on every stretch of tarmac around this historic circuit and never forgetting that within a second everything can change.
That is the spirit of Le Mans.
LE MANS BY NUMBERS
There are names. There are stories. There are legends. Then, there are numbers.
Here are a few of those numbers.
For WEC Week and the build up to the greatest endurance race in the world, here is Le Mans By Numbers:
1 – Wins In Their First Entries – Andre Lagache, Rene Leonard, Bernard Rubin, Woolf Barnato, Luigi Chinetti, Tazio Nuvolari, Philippe Etancelin, Luis Fontes, Jean-Pierre Wimille, Peter Walker, Fritz Riess, Hermann Lang, Ivor Bueb, AJ Foyt, Hurley Haywood, Klaus Ludwig, Andy Wallace, Christophe Bouchut, Eric Helary, Alexander Wurz, Tom Kristensen, Laurent Aiello, Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber
2 – Most Pole Positions Without Winning – Toyota
2 – Most Consecutive Wins By Same Car – Bentley Speed Six, Ford GT40, Porsche 956 & Porsche WSC-95
2 – Most Cars In The Leading Lap – 1933, 1935, 1966, 1969, 1983, 1987, 1988, 2004, 2008 & 2011
3 – Wins In All Drivers Entries – Woolf Barnato
3 – Most Consecutive Pole Positions – Jacky Ickx & Stephane Sarrazin
4 – Most Consecutive Fastest Laps – Mike Hawthorn
4 – Winner With Most Constructors – Yannick Dalmas
5 – Most Wins By A Car – Audi R8
5 – Most Second Place Finishes Without Winning – Toyota
5 – Most Consecutive Fastest Laps – Audi
5 – Most Fastest Laps – Jacky Ickx
5 – Most Pole Positions – Jacky Ickx
6 – Most Consecutive Pole Positions – Porsche
6 – Most Consecutive Wins – Tom Kristensen
6 – Fewest Finishers – 1931
6 – Most Podiums Without A Win – Bob Wollek
7 – Most Consecutive Wins – Porsche
8 – Most Podium Hatricks – Porsche
8 – Most Cars Of The Same Brand In A Row – Porsche
9 – Most Driver Wins – Tom Kristensen
9 – Most Consecutive Podium Finishes – Emanuele Pirro
11 – Most Entries As Team Mates – Tracy Krohn & Niclas Jonsson
11 – Most Consecutive Finishes – Johnny O’Connell
12 – Most 1-2 Finishes – Porsche
12 – Most Safety Cars In A Race – 2013
13 – Most Wins By A Team – Joest Racing
13 – Biggest Gap In Years Between Two Wins – Alexander Wurz
14 – Most Fastest Laps – Porsche
14 – Most Starts Without Finishing One Race – Hans Heyer
14 – Most Podiums – Tom Kristensen
16 – Most Starts Before First Win – David Brabham
16 years (202 days) – Youngest Driver To Start A Race – Matt McMurry
17 – Biggest Gap In Years Between First And Last Win – Hurley Haywood
17 – Entries With Most Constructors – Francois Migault
17 – Fewest Cars In A Single Race – 1930
18 – Most Constructor Wins – Porsche
18 – Most Consecutive Podiums – Audi
18 – Most Retirements – Henri Pescarolo
18 years (133 days) – Youngest Driver On The Podium (Overall) – Ricardo Rodriguez
19 – Most Pole Positions By Constructor – Porsche
19 – Most Finishes – Derek Bell
20 – Most Entries With The Same Constructor – Bob Wollek
21 – Years Of Most Time Between Successive Starts – Jean Alesi
22 years (91 days) – Youngest Winner – Alexander Wurz
23 (hours, 15 minutes & 17 seconds) – Most Time In The Car During 24 Hours – Louis Rosier
30 – Most Winning Drivers Per Nation – United Kingdom
30 – Most Consecutive Starts – Henri Pescarolo
30 – Most Starts Without Winning (Overall) – Bob Wollek
33 – Most Entries By A Single Constructor In A Single Race – Porsche
33 – Total Starts – Henri Pescarolo
34 – Most Wins By Nation Constructor – Germany
34 – Most Winning Tyre Manufacturer – Dunlop
35 – Most Times Between First And Last Start – Mario Andretti & Yojiro Terada
43 – Total Driver Wins Per Nation – France
44 – Most Finishers – 2016
47 years (343 days) – Oldest Winner – Luigi Chinetti
55 years (110 days) – Oldest Driver On The Podium (Overall) – Mario Andretti
60 – Most Cars In A Single Race – 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955 & 2016
66 – Most Participations By A Single Constructor – Porsche
68 years (110 days) – Oldest Driver To Start A Race – Jack Gerber
788 – Most Total Entries By A Single Constructor – Porsche
24 – The Hours It Takes To Finish The Greatest Race In The World
The official entry list for the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been revealed ahead of the historic event in June.
Of the 60 cars that will comprise the field, 28 will be full-time entrants from the full World Endurance Championship. The prototype classes will be led by six LMP1 entries, including Toyota’s additional #9 TS050 Hybrid, and 25 cars from all four different chassis manufacturers will contest the LMP2 category.
Meanwhile, the two LMGTE classes will feature 29 entrants between them, representing Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche.
John Rourke/ FIA World Endurance Championship
The biggest change in the LMP1 field is an adjustment to Toyota’s racing lineup. Following Jose Maria Lopez’s crash at Silverstone and withdrawal from Spa, Toyota has elected to swap the Argentine around with Stephane Sarrazin.
This means that Lopez will now drive the team’s third car alongside Nicolas Lapierre and Yuji Kunimoto, whilst Sarrazin will return to the #7 TS050 Hybrid to partner Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, the pairing with whom the Frenchman finished second for Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In the LMP2 category the entrants total 25 cars, including thirteen from the Asian and European Le Mans series’ to complement those from the WEC field.
Notable names on the 2017 grid include Rubens Barrichello joining the ELMS Racing Team Nederland entry, as well as top single-seater talents such as Jean-Éric Vergne, Felix Rosenqvist, Alex Lynn and Sergey Sirotkin, who are all making their Le Mans debut in LMP2 this year.
Last year’s LMP1 champion Romain Dumas will continue racing in the #36 Signatech Alpine in place of regular driver Nicolas Lapierre, who will instead pilot the third Toyota LMP1. Matthieu Vaxiviere will also return to TDS Racing’s #28 Oreca-Gibson following his recent foot injury, and will compete against his Spa stand-in Ben Hanley, who makes his Le Mans debut this year with ELMS team DragonSpeed.
As always, the LMGTE fields feature several third-man additions to established lineups. Amongst those are former Audi LMP1 drivers Lucas di Grassi and Marcel Fassler, both of whom return to contest Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class with AF Corse and Corvette Racing respectively.
The USA and UK Ford Chip Ganassi teams have also altered their squads from the usual WSCC configuration: the respective crews of the #66 and #68 Ford GTs have been swapped around, whilst Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell have moved from the #69 to the #67 and join new teammate Pipo Derani.
In GTE-Am, former Manor and G-Drive racer Will Stevens joins the #66 JMW Motorsport, and Fernando Rees will make his return to Le Mans with Larbre Competition, the team with which he made his WEC debut in 2012.
James Matthews, Deputy Editor
What can we expect from the WEC this year?
One thing is for sure that we are going to see close racing throughout the four different classes this year. with different cars suiting different tracks and different weather conditions it is set up for a very exciting season.
There have been changes in every class for this year new. Updated cars from Porsche & Toyota in LMP1, new engine for ByKolles, the departure of Audi & Rebellion from LMP1. New cars, drivers, teams & engines in LMP2 and new, updated cars in both GTE-PRO & GTE-AM along with new teams and drivers.
The 2017 World Endurance Championship promises to be yet another fantastic year of sportscar racing.
First action for the WEC entries will be the prologue which this year takes place at Monza over the weekend of the 1st & 2nd April with 27 of the 28 season entries take part.
Below is a link to the prologue entries.
First race of the season is set to take place at Silverstone on 16th April with the entry list just announced, below is a link to the entries for Silverstone.
After Silverstone the WEC moves onto Spa on the 6th May then onto the BIGGEST & one of the oldest events on the motorsport calendar. The LE MANS 24 HOURS over the weekend of 17th & 18th June, Nurburgring on 16th July, Mexico on the 3rd September, Austin 16th September, Fuji 15th October, Shanghai 5th November with the end of season being in Bahrain on the 18th November.
Unfortunately LMP1 is going to be a bit thin on the ground this year with the departure of Audi from the WEC & Rebellion going to LMP2 for 2017. This leaves just Porsche & Toyota (both running two cars each for the full season with Toyota running third car at Spa & Le Mans) as the only entries into LMP1 – H and one entry into LMP1 – L which is the ByKolles CLM with Nissan power this year.
Hopefully we will see some good battles this season between Porsche & Toyota. But it’s hard to see beyond the #1 Porsche for the world Championship with Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer & Nick Tandy onboard, although I am sure Toyota & the #2 Porsche will do their be to keep them honest.
Porsche see changes in both cars this year with Andre Lotterer & Nick Tandy replacing Romain Dumas & Marc Lieb in the #1 car & Earl Bamber replaces the now retired Mark Webber in the #2 car.
Porsche 919 Hybrid
Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
Porsche 919 Hybrid
Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
Toyota also see a slight change in there driver line up with Stephane Sarrazin stepping down (although he will race the third car at Spa & Le Mans) to be replaced by Jose Maria Lopez whilst the line up of Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima & Sebastien Buemi remains unchanged.
Toyota TS050 Hybrid
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 Hybrid
Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi
Not to be out done by Porsche & Toyota the ByKolles team also sees a change in the driver line up with Robert Kubica making a welcome return to circuit racing joining Oliver Webb in the #4 car and powered by the Nissan V6 turbo engine which was installed in the Nissan GT-R LM in 2015.
ByKolles CLM Nismo
Robert Kubica & Oliver Webb
LMP2 see some major changes this year. gone is the option to run an open topped car, along with the choice of engines, and in comes a new for 2017 “spec” engine from Gibson. The new Gibson engine is a 4.2 litre V8 producing around 600bhp which will power all LMP2 cars this season. There is also now a choice of four chassis (ORECA, Onroak/Ligier, Dallara & Riley), unlike last year where chassis choice was open. There are ten cars entered for the full season, all teams have gone for the ORECA chassis this year (although two of them will be entered as Alpine A470). There are two cars each from Rebellion Racing (stepping down from LMP1 this year), CEFC Manor Racing, Signatech Alpine Matmut & Jackie Chan DC Racing (run by Jota). Single entries for G-Drive racing & TDS Racing.
Racing should be close in LMP2 this season with a lot resting on the shoulders of the “silver” rated driver and how they will cope with the increase in power & performance of the new generation of LMP2 cars.
Signatech Alpine will be out to retain their hard earned title from last year but will be pushed all the way to the chequered flag of the last race. Reliability could also play a major part in the outcome of this the LMP2 title with the Gibson being a new engine, although it has done plenty of bench testing and has been already used in this year’s Daytona 24 hours and Sebring 12 hours.
Trying to predict a championship winner in this class is pretty difficult, but I think it will come down to a battle between Signatech & Rebellion.
Matias Beche, David Heninemeier Hanson, Nelson Piquet Jr
Tor Graves, TBA, TBA
Roberto Gonzalez, TBA, TBA
Roman Rusinov, Pierre Thiriet, Alex Lynn
Francois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Emmanuel Collard
Julien Canal, Nicolas Prost, Bruno Senna
All Drivers TBA
Nicolas Lapierre, TBA, TBA
David Cheng, Alex Brundle, Tristan Gommendy
Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent
For me this is probably the most exciting of all the classes with two cars each from Aston Martin Racing, Ford, Ferrari & Porsche and all with star driver line ups.
Porsche make a welcome return to the WEC GTE-PRO class with the new 911-RSR whilst Aston Martin, Ford & Ferrari all return with updated versions of last year’s cars and we also have a tyre war in both GTE classes this season with Dunlop & Michelin providing rubber to teams. Dunlop on the Aston Martins & Michelin on the Ford’s, Ferrari’s & Porsche’s.
Can Aston Martin retain their world championship from last year with Nicki Thiim & Marco Sorensen? Well this one is even closer to call than LMP2, with any of the eight cars more than capable of lifting the crown at the seasons end. Who will it be? Well your guess is as good as mine, I for one would like to see the Aston Martin of Darren Turner & Jonny Adams take the crown this year but they will have their work cut out.
One of the other big questions for both GTE classes is how much the dreaded “balance of performance” (Bop) affects things this year, let’s hope that Bop doesn’t get in the way of hopefully another fantastic wheel to wheel racing this season.
There are a few driver changes this year in GTE-PRO with Gianmaria Bruni departing from Ferrari & heading towards Porsche (not in WEC). He is being replaced by Alessandro Pier Guidi. Both Ford’s see the addition of a third driver this year. Along side Stefan Mucke & Oliver Pla will be Billy Johnson and teaming up with Andy Priaulx & Harry Tinknell will be Luis Felipe Derani.
James Calado & Alessandro Pier Guidi
Stefan Mucke, Oliver Pla, Billy Johnson
Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Luis Felipe Derani
Davide Rigon & Sam Bird
Richard Lietz & Frederic Makowiecki
Michel Christensen & Kevin Estre
Nicki Thiim & Marco Sorensen
Darren Turner & Jonathan Adam
GTE – AM
GTE – AM sees a five car entry for 2017 with the arrival of two Ferrari 488, two Porsche & one Aston Martin. The favourite for this class must surely be the #98 Aston Martin with the departure of last year’s winning Ferrari. Once again we see a tyre war with GTE – AM with Dunlop & Michelin providing rubber. Dunlop’s on both Porsche’s and Michelin on the Aston Martin & Ferrari’s.
Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, TBA
Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa, Matthew Griffin
Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli, Marvin Dienst
Michael Wainwright, Benjamin Barker, TBA
Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda
The 2017 WEC season is upon us. It is going to be fantastic. Hold on tight.
Stuttgart. The Porsche GT Team campaigns two 510 hp Porsche 911 RSR in the GT class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which has been given world championship status in 2017 for the first time. After a year of development in 2016, the 2015 FIA WEC title winners return with a works entry to the world’s most important GT competition.
The 911 RSR with the starting number 91 can be recognised by the red Porsche lettering on a black windscreen banner and on the rear wing as well as red wing mirrors. The vehicle is driven by the 2015 WEC Champion Richard Lietz (Austria) as well as Frédéric Makowiecki (France). Tackling the series in the number 92 vehicle are Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France). In contrast to the sister car, their 911 RSR features a white background on the windscreen and the rear wing as well as white wing mirrors.
Both 911 RSR, which were designed from scratch for the 2017 season featuring a four-litre flat-six engine mounted in front of the rear axle, will take part in the official WEC Prologue tests on 1-2 April in Monza. Silverstone (Great Britain) hosts the first race of the season on 16 April.
“In the fight for the maiden GT World Championship title in the FIA WEC we’ve put together two strong driver pairings. And all four pilots come from the world’s best GT hotbed of talent, Porsche’s one-make race series,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser.
The 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship races
16 April: 6 Hours of Silverstone (Great Britain)
6 May: 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
17/18 June: 24 Hours of Le Mans (France)
16 July: 6 Hours of Nürburgring (Germany)
3 September: 6 Hours of Mexico (Mexico)
16 September: 6 Hours of Austin (USA)
15 October: 6 Hours of Fuji (Japan)
5 November: 6 Hours of Shanghai (China)
18 November: 6 Hours of Bahrain (Bahrain)
Photos courtesy of Porsche (c)