Wednesday 20 July 2016

FIA WEC - 6 Hours of the Nürburgring: News update

With the dramatic finish at Le Mans still fresh in our memory, the World Endurance Championship now moves on to the Nürburging in Germany for the fourth - and last European - round in 2016. Here's a first round-up of news and changes in all classes. 


After their heartbraking misfortune at Le Mans, Toyota arrives at the Nürburgring determined to leave with a strong result. The TS050 will debut its ultra-high downforce aero package which is more suited to the Nürburgring's shorter and tighter character compared to the other tracks the WEC has raced this season. Expect updated front and rear bodywork for the Toyota, generating additional downforce at the cost of speed.

Toshio Sato, Team President: “We want to put our Le Mans disappointment behind us, but first I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the fans, rivals and friends who sent us such touching messages of support over the last weeks. We will not forget this. As a motorsport team, we want to race again and we do so with even more motivation and team spirit; the Nürburgring race is a great opportunity for us. It is also a home race which means we will have the support of plenty of our colleagues from Cologne. Last year there was a great crowd, so I hope we will again have packed grandstands and I am sure we can fight for the win.”

Porsche heads to the Nürburging as Le Mans winners and championship leaders in the manufacturers and drivers championship. After a few intense weeks following the win in the French classic, the team is ready to defend their lead in the championship. Porsche will also run a new high downforce aero kit on the 919 Hybrid, their third (and final) kit of the season. 

The team had a succesfull four day test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona running their new aero kit. Team Principal Andreas Seidl pointed out: “Even during the intense time before and during Le Mans, the Weissach based development team was relentlessly working and finalised this year’s third aerodynamic package for high downforce. After a convincing four-day test in Barcelona, we have decided to run it at the Nürburgring. The data from the test, as well as the feedback from Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, was promising. The majority of the modifications are covered by the bodywork, while the new look of the car’s front is obvious. We are well aware of the strong competition and ready to attack.”

No Benoit Treluyer in the Audi #7 this weekend. the Frenchman got injured in a sports accident on his bike at the end of last month and hasn't recovered enough yet to race. Treluyer will not be replaced so Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer will share the car inbetween the two of them. Treluyer is bound to be back at the WEC race in Mexico.

Audi will also run a new high downforce aero kit on the R18, probably less extreme than the one at Spa and Le Mans, more looking like the kit they ran at Silverstone. As earlier announced, the race at the Nürburgring will also see a bit of reorganisation at Audi. Stefan Dreyer, up untill now Project leader LMP1 engines has now become the new head of LMP. Leena Gade, who has been transferred to the Bentley customer program, will be replaced by Dutchman Erik Schuivens, who will become the race engineer for the #7. The Dutchman has already supported the first three rounds of the WEC season with Audi.

Matthias Beche returns to Rebellion Racing, in the #12 R-One where he will replace Nelson Piquet Jr, who had a contract for the first three races of the season. From now on, Beche will combine his efforts with Rebellion in the WEC and Thiriet by TDS in ELMS.


In the LMP2 class, all 11 "usual suspects" will be at te 'Ring.

Alex Brundle returns to the WEC championship as he will race the remainder of the season in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca05/Nissan. Brundle replaces Nathanël Berthon who already didn't race at Le Lans either and was replaced then by Manor's Will Stevens. . Brundle was already the teams reserve driver at Le Mans and will join Roman Rusinov and Rene Rast. Rast made his DTM debut last weekend, falling in for the injured Adrian Tambay in Zandvoort on Sunday. Berthon meanwhile landed a seat in ELMS with Greaves Motorsport. 

Surprise at Manor, where Will Stevens hasn't been reconfirmed (yet). On the latest entry list for this weekend, his place has been given to Antonio Pizzonia. For the Italian driver it will be a return to the 
WEC championship after racing with ADR Delta in 2013 for 2 races.

A driver change at Strakka Racing too this weekend, as the English team is giving Lewis Williamson a chance to prove himself in the Gibson 015S. Williamson, who is currently racing with Strakka in the Renault RS01 championship will take Danny Watts' place and race alongside Nick Leventis and Johnny Kane. Watts will however remain with the Strakka team, but no announcements have been made about driver line-ups for the remainder of the season.

American squad Tequila Patron Extreme Speeds Motorsports returns to its classic green/black livery after Le Mans. They also announced a switch from Dunlop to Michelin rubber, the only team in LMP2 to run Michelins in the WEC.


After their win in the GTE Pro Class at Le Mans, Ford Performance announced the extension of their GT race program, which will run for a minimum of three more years. Initially planned for a two season effort, the American manufacturer added 2 more seasons for the program. "We are in motorsport to win races and championships, but just as importantly we are using it to develop our engineering expertise and help develop advancements for production vehicles like Ecoboost engines, advanced aerodynamics and lightweight materials that consumers can use in Ford production vehicles going forward" said Dave Pericak, global director of Ford Performance. 

The program has now been extended to at least 2019, and who knows, might even go further after that. The driver line-ups of both cars entered in the WEC will also see some adjustments: Billy Johnson has returned to racing in the USA and won't rejoin the #66 Ford GT. Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla will both finish the season in the car. As they scored full WEC points at Le Mans (the first 3 cars weren't WEC contenders), both drivers are leading the WEC driver standings. In the #67, Harry Tincknell's contract has been extended and will join Andy Priaulx and Marino Franchitti again in Germany and all other races of the season. 

Aston Martin Racing surprisingly shook up its driver line-ups ahead of the 6 hour race in Germany. Leaving Le Mans as championship leaders in GTE-Pro, the team decided to consolidate its driver line-ups for the remainder of the season, reducing it to two drivers per car. Darren Turner will return to the #97 Vantage V8, joining Richie Stanaway. The #95 will become the infamous "Dane Train" again, retaining Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen. Jonny Adam and Fernando Rees will remain with AMR, but won't take place in any further WEC rounds in 2016.

Team Principal of Aston Martin Racing, Paul Howarth, said "With the second half of the season due to begin, we have had to consider what is best for the team. With a focused driver lineup, this should help give us the best possible chance of success this year. I hope that Nicki, Marco, Darren and Richie will continue to push hard and keep us at the top of the GT manufacturers table".

"I'd like to thank Fernando and Jonny for their efforts this year, particularly on their sterling job at Le Mans. They have each put in fantastic performances and we look forward to continuing to work with them in our wider Aston Martin Racing activities".

In GTE-AM, Paulo Ruberti returns to the #50 Larbre Corvette, now fully recoved from his vertebra injury which made him miss Le Mans.

© Audi - Ferdi Kräling Motorsport-Bild
After the Le Mans 24 Hours, Audi Sport Team Joest said goodbye to their long-standing race engineer Leena Gade. The British engineer has guided Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer three times to a Le Mans win, one world championship title and a total of ten race wins in the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. Ralf Jüttner, team director of Audi Sport Team Joest, thanked her with an extraordinary present: Leena Gade received the team’s 2011 Le Mans winner’s trophy. This was the first year that she won the endurance race for Audi with her driver combination. That race was exceptional as the winning margin of the only finishing Audi was a mere 13.854 seconds. Gade will be active in the Bentley Motorsport programme as from now on. 

Weekendtickets for the 6 hours sell at the track itself for € 55,00. Daily tickets for Friday (10 €) and Saturday (20 €) are also sold on site.

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Kristof Vermeulen.