Silverstone prepares for WEC season opener

Next week the WEC and F3 will race at the legendary Silverstone circuit, with a special British trophy also up for grabs

It is not only the windy, cold conditions of former airfield Silverstone that have earned it the reputation as the home of British motor sport (although they are a good guide to the conditions drivers face when racing in the country!). As well as being the long-standing home to the country’s round of the Formula One World Championship, which it first hosted in 1948, it also has a rich history of sportscar racing.

The annual six-hour endurance race has been run since the 1970s, with stars such as Jochen Mass, Derek Bell and Martin Brundle having caught the crowd’s imagination with their victories. It seems the British fans are as passionate about watching sportscars run wheel-to-wheel as they are about Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

When the flag falls on the 2013 event next Sunday, the winners will not only be celebrating victory in the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. They will also be receiving a particularly British honour, as their names will be added to the illustrious list of drivers who have claimed the Royal Automobile Club’s famous Tourist Trophy.

Great names such as Rudolf Caracciola, Tazio Nuvolari, Sir Stirling Moss and Graham Hill have all received the prize, which holds a special place in British motor sport history and was awarded at Silverstone touring car races in the 1970s and 1980s. The first race – held in 1905 – was also run over six hours, but this will be the first time in half a century that the trophy will be awarded to the winners of a world championship endurance sportscar event.

Among those in this year’s 31-car grid who will be gunning for overall honours and the TT include 2012 champions Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer in their Audi R18, who also won here last year. They’ll face stiff competition from team-mates Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval, who will also be battling the arch-rival Toyota squad. The Japanese manufacturer will be represented by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin in the number 8 Toyota TS030, while Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Wurz will race the number 7.

Flying the flag for Britain in its home round of the WEC will be Strakka Racing, Delta-ADR, Greaves Motorsport and Aston Martin Racing, and the crowds will be cheering on a total of 15 British drivers across the four classes.

But it is not only the WEC stars who will be setting the pace next week, as the FIA Formula 3 European Championship will host its second round of 2013, having opened at Monza last month. After two victories Raffaele Marciello leads the standings, followed by Pascal Wehrlein, who also won in Italy. But they’ll be under pressure from British drivers Harry Tincknell and Alex Lynn who’ll be hoping to make it to the podium in their home race.