Race Calendars: FIA WEC 2019/20

Race dates for FIA WEC 2019/20

FIA_WEC_logo    24_le_mans_logo_detail

2019 FIA WEC

*As at 26 August 2019*

1 Sep 4 Hours of Silverstone Silverstone with ELMS
6 Oct 6 Hours of Fuji Fuji Speedway
10 Nov 4 Hours of Shanghai Shanghai International
14 Dec 8 Hours of Bahrain Bahrain International
1 Feb 6 Hours of Sao Paulo Autodromo Carlos Pace
20 Mar (Friday) 1000 Miles of Sebring Sebring International with IMSA
25 Apr 6 Hours of Spa Spa-Francorchamps
13-14 Jun 24 Heures du Mans Circuit de la Sarthe

From Autumn to Summer & New Race Lengths

The FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) returns to an annual schedule again, after the transition of the long “Superseason” which included two editions of the Le Mans 24H, with every season now starting in the autumn.

The 2019/20 season will be the first in WEC to run through the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn/winter/spring, with summer being the new off-season.

The other change this season is to vary the race distances following fan survey feedback which asked the series to mix up the race lengths from race to race, rather than have every round being 6 Hours except for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The season opener (this week!) is the 4 Hours of Silverstone. On the one hand it seems a little harsh to chop two hours from one of the most popular rounds of the season and I am disappointed by it. On the other hand, this is the only routine WEC round to feature a further 4 hour race for the European Le Mans series on the Saturday. 8 hours of multi-class racing is quite a good deal. ELMS races are can be quite frantic, I wonder if we’ll see that intensity in WEC again?

Similarly, the other big sports car festival is the successful Sebring event. The WEC joins up for the second time with the popular IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship weekend. IMSA retains the prestigious, decades-old 12 Hours of Sebring, with the WEC running a separate 1000 Mile (8 Hour) race on the Friday evening. It works where COTA didn’t because it is simple: put the sports car racing in front of the sports car fans.

Fuji, Shanghai and Spa all continue on the calendar although Shanghai is reduced to a 4 hour race. Fuji is popular among Japanese fans. I really do think the Asian Le Mans Series should share a weekend with WEC either at Fuji or Shanghai. Then the WEC would pair with all the continental series at least once.

Bahrain returns after a year away and is extended to an 8-hour ‘into-the-night’ race. Interlagos is back after a few years away, this time the race will be on February 1st. These two rounds eliminate the massive gap between Shanghai and Sebring. Indeed Bahrain’s race is just 10 days before Christmas – there is no off-season these days!

And of course Le Mans is on the traditional 13th/14th June weekend.

End Of An Era

And this will be the final season with the current LMP1 cars. Quite what the “hypercar” era will bring us 12 months from now isn’t quite clear, at the moment it looks like two Toyotas, two Aston Martins and a whole lot of unknowns.

“Hypercar” is planned to be some 8-10 seconds slower around Le Mans than a current LMP1 car, a similar pace to a current LMP2 car. That’s probably 3-4 seconds slower at somewhere like Silverstone.

So you can expect both sets of existing prototypes to be slowed down to run behind the new ‘premier class’. GTE cars shouldn’t be affected. Therefore this is the final WEC season where you can watch this generation of LMP1 and LMP2 cars unrestricted.

And I’ve seen that Toyota TS050 live (and the Porsche 919 when it was there). You want to see that acceleration and direction change in person while you can.

Links

Google/iCal Calendar links:   ICAL  -or-  HTML

For more championships click here.

Races Watched (2019 Week 16): WEC COTA 2017

Week 16:  15-21 April 2019

A very quiet weekend in the racing world. The only active series were those I don’t follow closely, but that’s probably my fault for not following British GT as closely I should.

In the UK it was Easter Bank Holiday weekend with Good Friday and Easter Monday off work. The sun was out so I didn’t spend a lot of time indoors watching racing and I opted out of going to Oulton Park’s British GT due to other goings on.

It was a good opportunity to continue my endurance racing catch up which I did on Sunday evening. There’s little point blogging it for an audience because frankly none of you care about a race that happened 18 months ago but I did it anyway because I like the practice of writing weekly.

2017 FIA WEC – R6 – 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas
Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA
Took place 16th September 2017
Watched 21st April 2019

Qualifying:
LMP1:  Porsche, Porsche, Toyota, Toyota;
LMP2:  Signatech, Rebellion, Jackie Chan DC, Rebellion;
GTE Pro:  AF Corse, Ford Ganassi, Aston Martin, AF Corse;
GTE Am:  Aston Martin, Spirit of Race, Clearwater, Dempsey-Proton;

Just four cars in LMP1 for the last few races of the 2017 season and Porsche’s 919 was clearly faster than Toyota’s TS050, just as it was in Mexico. Yet the Toyotas had better low speed boost, the traction off the corner visibly better and they got past the no.2 Porsche in the early laps. Toyota then ran 1-2 by not taking tyres at the first pitstops when the Porsches did. That made a race of it for the next hour! They’d play strategy all race.

LMP2 teams were single-stinting drivers due to the high heat. Really close racing in the class. Signatech Alpine were the class of the field, though in the middle Alex Brundle’s Jackie Chan DC Racing car pulled a big lead for a while. This class was the one most affected by tyre regulations (just 4 sets for a 6 hour race) on a high degradation track, so the order changed a lot based on who was single-stinting and double-stinting tyres.

GTE Pro again had really good close, clean racing this time between the Aston of Nicki Thiim and the two AF Corse Ferraris in the first hour. Thiim had got the lead through the melee of turn one lap one when all the cars spread out wide. In the 2nd hour the Ferraris got clear. Despite qualifying last, the Porsche GTs had great race pace and caught the Ferraris.

GTE Am’s pole-sitting Aston Martin had Paul Dalla Lana driving first so we found him fall behind the Pro drivers early and the two Ferraris pull away. It turned around later when Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy raced through the pack.

A Safety Car just after halfway after the Gulf Porsche spun twice. That allowed the GT Porsche to catch and overtake the Ferraris for the Pro lead. But with 12 minutes to go the leading no. 51 Ferrari had a slow puncture, the pit stop put Ferrari and Porsche side by side for the lead! The Ferrari would just about come out on top.

And within 10 minutes to go the lead Porsche 919s swapped places, team orders, the No. 1 slowing to allow No. 2 to win. That gives the No.2 car its 4th consecutive win including Le Mans and a handy points lead, while No.1 failed to score back at the double-points Le Mans and so is the sacrificial lamb.

As ever in WEC the field spread out in the last couple of hours but there were stories all the way through. I was expecting to be able to F.Fwd through chunks and get the race done in 5 hours or less, I ended up not skipping any of it.

LMP1

  1. No. 2 Porsche 919 – Hartley, Bernhard, Bamber [4th win of the year];
  2. No. 1 Porsche 919 – Lotterer, Tandy, Jani;
  3. No. 8 Toyota TS050 – Buemi, Nakajima, Sarrazin;

LMP2

  1. No. 36 Signatech Alpine – Lapierre, Menezes, Negrao  [1st win of the year];
  2. No. 13 Rebellion – Piquet Jr, Beche, Heinemeier Hansson;
  3. No. 31 Rebellion – Senna, Prost, Canal  [5th podium of the year];

GTE Pro

  1. No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari – Calado, Pier Guidi  [2nd win of the year];
  2. No. 92 Porsche – Christensen, Estre;
  3. No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari – Rigon, Bird;

GTE Am

  1. No. 98 Aston Martin – Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda  [2nd win of the year];
  2. No. 61 Clearwater Ferrari – Sun Mok, Sawa, Griffin;
  3. No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari – Castellacci, Flohr, Molina;

The next WEC race was the 6 Hours of Fuji, though the ELMS 4 Hours of Spa is next on my list by calendar date.

Next Week

The weekend of 26th to 28th April, a fairly busy one depending on your interests. My pick of the week is Baku because that race is crazy fun.

  • F1 Azerbaijan GP at Baku (with F2 support);
  • Formula E in Paris;
  • VLN 3 at the Nordschleife;
  • GT Open at Paul Ricard;
  • Blancpain America at VIR;
  • WTCR at Hungaroring;
  • BTCC at Donington Park;
  • WRC in Argentina;
  • NASCAR at Talledega;

I will watch F1 and Formula E. If the weather is terrible Saturday I may stay home and watch VLN. I plan to catch up on BTCC and WTCR at the end of the year as, guess what, I’m two years behind!

Oh and it’s the London Marathon on Sunday morning and that’s often a good watch if you like endurance racing of any type.

COMMENT: 16/17 June 2018 Le Mans

In some 17 years of following the race from afar, the 2018 edition wouldn’t rank in my top ten or fifteen. On the positive side there were some prominent highlights: a worthy winning team, a true test of endurance among the new LMP1 cars, some fascinating F1 visitors with very different approaches, a much better GT race than expected. And I once again enjoyed being a tiny part of the online endurance racing family.

Continue reading “COMMENT: 16/17 June 2018 Le Mans”

Weekend Preview: 16/17 June 2018 Le Mans

It’s the big one, the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

Times are approximate and in British Summer Time.

There are 60 cars with 180 drivers. 60 stories to follow. Three class races other than LMP1. Please do not belittle all of that just because the race for the win might be boring!

Continue reading “Weekend Preview: 16/17 June 2018 Le Mans”