The Circuit of The Americas (CotA) in Austin, Texas hosts Round 5 of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship (FIAWEC) in the first of two visits to the United States of America, the second being Sebring in Mid-March. The return to CotA (since September 2017) by the FIAWEC replaces the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, which was cancelled. The return to Texas is just for 2020 as next year’s February race will be held at Kyalami in South Africa.
Qualifying took place in quite benign dry conditions in cool air temps of 15c and a track temp of circa 19.5c
Having recovered from a failed engine in FP2 Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato gave #1 Rebellion Racing its third consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship pole position (1:47.530) at Circuit of The Americas in their solitary entry. #1 Rebellion took pole by >1.6seconds, which is the margin season to-date. With no Ginetta to trip over, we hope for a clean and rapid start.
The Toyotas gaining points and hence weight were unable to oppose the Rebellion their pursuit curtailed by a red flag with under six minutes of the session remaining as the #33 High Class Racing Oreca stopped on-track.
Track limit penalties impeded Hartley’s progress in the #8 Toyota, Conway in the #7 car to undercut Hartley’s time putting the championship-leading #7 Toyota on the front of the grid. However, Hartley and Nakajima’s #8 has the marginally better handicap, so we look forward to action in the early laps.
#42 Cool Racing continues to emerge as a top team in LMP2 taking multiple pole positions in the 2019-20 WEC as Borga and Lapierre averaged 1:49.910 just 0.5second off the back of the weighty LMP1s and fourth on the grid. De Vries in the #27 Racing Team Nederland Oreca continues to shine individually leading the ever quick Lapierre, but the combination with Van Eerd proved slower..
United Autosports qualified second with a 1:50.073 average in the #22 set by Hanson and Albuquerque, ahead of Ragues and Laurent in third with the #36 Signatech Alpine. Ragues and Laurent will share the second row of the class grid with Stevens and Aubry, in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca.
GTE-Pro as every was very close (~half-a-second) between the six full-season entries, the BoP for the single guest entry from #63 Corvette Racing looking a little adrift, in fact noted as being between on pace by a couple of GTE-AMs. Championship leading #95 Aston Martin took category pole. Thiim and Sorensen less than 2-one-hundredth apart, and a clear 2-tenths ahead of the rest of the field.
#92 Porsche RSR takes up second place alongside the Aston Martin with a 2:00.952 average from Estre and Christensen. Third place is taken by the second Vantage #97 of Martin and Lynn followed by the #51 Ferrari of Clado and Pier Guidi.
The guest #63 Corvette Racing entry of Magnussen and Rockenfeller start last in GTE-Pro and actually ninth on the GTE grid as they were surpassed by two -Am entries.
#56 Project 1 Porsche takes pole in -Am pursued by the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage with the returning Canadian Paul Dalla Lana back in the saddle, and taking the start. The popularity of the -AM Ferrari 488 GTE EVO continues to surprise as the #90 TF Sport Vantage and #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche RSR locked the second row, with the Fezzas squabbling with the remaining Porkers at the rear.
Image Credit: @My_Racing_Stuff for SportscarGlobalSo to The Grid –
Lap distance: 5.513 km – Race duration: 6 hours
Race is scheduled to start at mid-day local which equates to Sunday 1800uk /1900cet. Of course the FIAWEC App has a solid stream of coverage, and as ever the faithful Radio Le Mans crew have their excellent coverage commencing at 1715uk. TV coverage can be found on both Eurosport and BT Sport Extra from 1730uk.
Enjoy for what it is 🙂