The new FIA WEC season gets underway at Silverstone this weekend but the drama is only beginning.
Thu 11.04.13, 10:10AM
Few championship battles are as exciting as the rivalry that the FIA World Endurance Championship delivered last year between Audi and Toyota. Now, as the series prepares for a second season, it promises even more action and memorable racing.
The eight-round championship gets underway this weekend with a 31-car field in the Silverstone Six Hours, at which the famous Royal Automobile Club’s Tourist Trophy will also be awarded.
Last year’s race victory went to the Audi trio of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer – who also went on to win the title. So claiming the Silverstone scalp will be the goal of all teams with their eyes on the big prize, including Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, who scored just one 2012 victory, and will be teamed with Loic Duval in the number two Audi.
The R18 may have won out last year, but Toyota will once again give the German manufacturer a run for its money with the TS030, which last year claimed three victories in the hands of former grand prix driver Alex Wurz and team-mate Nicolas Lapierre. Meanwhile, British star Anthony Davidson is teamed with Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin in the number 8 TS030.
But it isn’t only the factory teams that feature some of the sport’s great names. Among those in the privateer LMP1 battle include former F1 star Nick Heidfeld in the Lola Toyota of Rebellion Racing, who will be defending their 2012 title from rivals Strakka Racing. Meanwhile, 10 cars will line up for an open battle in the LMP2 field, with former Peugeot factory driver Nicolas Minassian (Pecom Racing) up against the likes of Antonio Pizzonia (Delta-ADR) and Vitatonio Liuzzi (Lotus).
The LMGTE Pro class also features its fair share of former grand prix stars, with Kamui Kobayashi and Giancarlo Fisichella racing against each other in rival AF Corse Ferrari F458s. They’ll face competition from a duo of Porsche 911 RSRs and the Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8s piloted by, amongst others, Bruno Senna and Pedro Lamy.
Topped with a rich LMGTE Am field, we’re looking at a stunning season that will take the FIA WEC to Spa-Francorchamps next month, ahead of June’s Le Mans 24 Hours, where Nissan will be racing a new all-electric car. We will have to wait until November and the 6 Hours of Bahrain to find out who will ultimately be crowned 2013 WEC champions, but before then there will be a season to savour – starting on Sunday lunchtime at Silverstone.