For a day between races, the 27th September 2016 will go down as a memorable one for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
For those in the UK it got off to an early start with Porsche and Mark Webber treating us to an early morning run around Central London. Check out the @SportsCarGlobal timeline for some wonderful shots and a potentially slightly embarrassing (for @AussieGrit) video (although to be fair, the 919 Hybrid is not designed for travelling at the pace of London’s commuter traffic!). Whilst the 919 Hybrid is a superb state of the art LMP1-H sports car, we don’t expect Uber to be using them around town anytime soon.
The next piece of news for the future sees BMW Motorsport joining the WEC in 2018 in the GTE-Pro category. BMW currently compete in the US IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship with a GTLM M6. Whilst this is accepted with waivers in the US, it is unlikely to be the 2018 platform for the World stage. Indeed having now become familiar with the current GTE-spec Ford GT it will be fascinating to see what BMW bring to the championship. Suffice to say they must have seen the latest iteration of the regulations and can see opportunities for success.
Following on from that mention of Ford Performance, they joined the day of Media updates with their own news. Having retained Harry Tincknell following a troubled 2016 Le Mans for the #67 the European team found itself with a wealth of talent, and a split strategy between a two-driver #66 (Mucke/Pla) and the three-driver Brit Pack car. Maintaining that situation for the team was clearly not sustainable as team strategists would need to work out different approaches for each car.
We fully expect that there was a comprehensive corporate process to arrive at a decision, but today the axe fell for the remainder of the season on Marino Franchitti.
We took a closer look at the published race data from the recent round at Circuit of the Americas (CotA) and found some evidence to support the decision.
From the stints we can see that Marino Franchitti appears to be averaging out slower in Sectors two, three and around the lap gives up 500 metres/hour. The 29-lap count also gives us in excess of half a kilometre lost for a car that rolled home 13.376secs off the podium at effectively its home round… Further to that when we look at Harry Tincknell’s 39 lap stint & the final 50 by Andy Priaulx we see a difference over the 89-laps of just seven-hundredths of a kph, those are two impressively matched drivers!
It will be interesting to see whether the two of them can gain even more pace (to match Pla/Mucke) certainly one thing is fact, Henry has saved the cost of one airline seat to Japan! We look forward to seeing how they run at a circuit that should suit their streamlined Le Mans configuration, Fuji on 16th October.