Twenty eight cars head to Texas
After the thrills and spills of São Paulo the teams and drivers competing now head north to Texas for the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas on the 20-22 September.
Round 5 will be held on Sunday 22nd September but this weekend also marks the second super endurance meeting in 2013. After racing with the European Le Mans Series in April at Silverstone, the FIA WEC now shares the event with the American Le Mans Series which will give sportscar fans a double reason to head to Austin in just over two weeks.
Victory in Sao Paulo for reigning world champions Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler has helped to close the gap on championship leaders Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval, but the crew of the nr1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro know that they need to keep winning if they are going to be in with a chance retaining their title in 2013. Like Brazil, Toyota Racing will head to the USA with just one car, the nr8 Toyota TS030 hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin and the trio will be hoping to put the disappointment of the early exit at Interlagos behind them and reapply the pressure to the two Audis in Texas.
Rebellion Racing’s Nicolas Prost. Nick Heidfeld and Matthias Beche had plenty to celebrate in Brazil with the team’s first overall podium finish. As the sole LMP1 Privateer entry they know they cannot take the fight to the manufacturer entries, but they know now what it is like to sample victory champagne on the main podium and will be looking for more of the same in the next race.
LMP2 once again didn’t fail to impress and the race winner in Sao Paulo, the nr26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan, has an unchanged driver line up for Austin. The nr25 Delta-ADR has one driver change with Mexican Rudy Junco joining James Walker and Tor Graves. The nr24 and nr35 OAK Racing Morgans have unchanged driver line ups, with 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Martin Plowman, Bertrand Baguette and Mexico’s Ricardo Gonzalez looking to return to winning ways to increase their 14 point championship lead in what the Mexican will count as his home race. The third OAK Racing Morgan sees one change of driver with French driver Erik Maris joining fellow compatriots Jacques Nicolet and Jean-Marc Merlin in sharing the driving duties.
Race winners Luis Perez Companc, Nicolas Minassian and Pierre Kaffer will be looking to secure their fourth podium of the season in the Pecom Racing Oreca in their bid to close the gap to the two OAK Morgans in the title race. Lotus will once again be entering two cars and while the identities of the drivers in the nr32 T128 are unchanged, American Kevin Weeda and Britain’s James Rossiter will be rejoined by Vitantonio Liuzzi in the nr31 car.
Christian Zugel will race in the sole Zytek on the grid run by Greaves Motorsport, with American Chris Dyson rejoining the team for his home race.
The GTE classes were the talk of the race in Brazil with incidents and race action for the entire 6 hour duration. After finishing second at Interlagos to the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella, Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke in the nr97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 hold a slender two point advantage in the FIA World Cup for GTE Drivers ahead of the Porsche duo of Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb in the nr92 Porsche 911 RSR. The LMGTE Pro class will once again feature seven factory cars: two Ferraris, two Porsches and three Aston Martins. Toni Vilander and Kamui Kobayashi will be hoping for better luck in the USA after a major fire destroyed their Ferrari 458 in São Paulo.
Fred Makowiecki will be partnering Bruno Senna in the nr99 Aston Martin after missing the race in São Paulo due to other racing commitments, and the duo will be hoping it will be third time lucky after the Vantage crashed out at Le Mans and in Brazil. The nr98’s driver line up is unchanged from Brazil with New Zealander Richie Stanaway joining Canada’s Paul Dalla Lana and Portugal’s Pedro Lamy. Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet will team up once again to share the nr91 Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR after their podium finish in Round 4.
There was another great battle in the LMGTE Am class in Brazil with the nr96 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Stuart Hall and Jamie Campbell-Walker taking victory. Germany’s Roald Goethe will rejoin the British pair in the car in Austin. It was a bitter-sweet event for AMR with the pole position holding nr95 Vantage of Christoffer Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim looking good for victory in the class until a wheel detached itself from the car, forcing Poulsen off the track and into retirement.
Class title points leaders Jean-Karl Vernay and Raymond Narac took a creditable 4th place in Brazil but will be looking to go a lot better in the nr67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911GT3 RSR, with Christophe Bourret once again joining them in Texas.
The two US teams on the grid, 8Star Motorsports and Krohn Racing are hoping for a good run in front of their home crowd, especially for Texan Tracy Krohn who is joined once again in the nr57 Ferrari by Nic Jnsson and Maurizio Mediani. After securing another podium in Brazil, the crew of the 8Star Ferrari will feature team boss Enzo Potolicchio and regular driver Rui Aguas, with the identity of their teammate yet to be announced.
The third Ferrari in the GTE Am class is the nr61 458 of Matt Griffin, Marco Cioci and Jack Gerber. They posted the fastest qualifying lap in São Paulo, only to have it snatched away after damage to the front splitter incurred when riding the kerbs caused them to fall foul of the post qualifying technical checks for insufficient ride height. Their luck in the race didn’t improve and they will be looking for a good finish in Austin to get their championship back on track.
Christian Ried, Gianluca Roda and Paulo Ruberti had a good run in Brazil with their first podium finish of the 2013 season in the Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The same couldn’t be said for the nr50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette of Fernando Rees, Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser, with lots of time spent in the pits for different issues. However, the team worked hard and they took the chequered flag to score some much needed championship points.
The race weekend gets underway on Thursday 19 September with the circuit hosting a collective test session. Free Practice is on Friday and Saturday, with Qualifying also on Saturday at 1pm (local). The 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas will get underway at 11am (local) on Sunday 22 September.