Wednesday 19 August 2015

WEC heads off to Germany for the first time next week

After a 2 month summer break, the World Endurance Championship is getting ready for the fourth round of the season. It's off to Germany and the Nürburgring this time, the first visit of the WEC to this legendary track, and the first time since 2009 an endurance world championship is visiting the Eiffel. Although the race will take place on the GP Strecke, the spirit of the legendary Green Hell will be all around the track next week.
Last month, the race was presented at the Nürburgring, together with a two day test session with 20 teams present. In this first part we'll focus on the top contenders with Audi and Porsche getting ready for an epic battle for the 2015 championship.

Everyone present at the press conference agreed that racing at the Nürburgring means endurance racing is coming home again. The 1000 km races at the Nordschleife in the past always saw epic racing and huge crowds, let's hope the fans come out to the track again for the home race of Porsche, Audi and also Toyota who have their workshops nearby in Cologne.

Hans Joachim Stuck, twice winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans, sportscars world champion and a Nürburgring legend (driving his first lap at the Green hell at the age of 9) has been appointed Grand Marshal of this race. “During history, endurance racing belongs on the Nürburgring” said Stuck during the presentation of the race last month. “After my career in Formula 1, I've booked my greatest successes in endurance racing. Racing at the Nordschleife 1000 km in front of 150.000 to 200.000 fans will always be in my memory and with the return of the WEC, the spirit of endurance racing is coming home again”.

The whole Porsche team is still on a high after their historic victory at Le Mans in june. “The excitement in the Porsche headquarters after winning Le Mans was amazing. Everyone wants to be part of the winning team and the legendary race in France” says Andreas Seidl, head of Porsche's LMP1 program. “The Nürburgring is a track where history has been written and we want to do it again this year. Winning Le Mans after 17 years, gave the whole team an incredible boost and we will do all we can to win also at our home race in Germany. We're also pushing hard to win the WEC championship and scored good points for that with our second car at Le Mans, so having a good result over here will be key for the rest of the championship.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport hasn't forgotten the 2009 race and is keen on revenge for the defeat at Le Mans. “It's been 6 years since we've raced here in the Le Mans Series, and we weren't able to win it back then. We didn't win Le Mans this year, so we want to get back what is ours; the top spot of the podium”. “Audi will be pushing hard to claim the WEC title at the end of the season and is eager to win here at their home race on a legendary track. Asking Dr Ullrich why people should come to the WEC, his answer was very clear : “The WEC championship offers exciting and fair racing in all different classes, with new technology that will go through to road cars. There's no artificial overtaking down here but real racing with drivers fighting for speed and position. Since this is a home race for Audi and Porsche, I expect a good crowd for the race.”

Olaf Manthey, who is running the Porsche GTE-Pro factory cars probably has the most experience with racing on the Nurburgring. “The Nürburgring is our home track, it's basically in the backyard of our workshop, so we should be well prepared for a good result out here. On Monday we were able to do some testing in wet conditions, which is always helpful when you've got a race coming up in the Eiffel.” The pressure will be on at Manthey Racing for a top result in their backyard, but it's clear Porsche will be ready to fight for the win in LMP1 and GTE-Pro with their factory teams.

In 2009, Aston Martin had a clean sweep on the podium and took a dominating victory with their Lola V12 after an eventful race. With the unpredictable Eiffel weather, it's hard to tell what kind of race we'll have next weekend but it will be an exciting one, that's for sure. This is a new race on the calendar, but with a massive potential and fan base. Let's hope the fans will find their way on to the 'Ring, and make it a great weekend for endurance racing. They should be in for a treat with a full race program and entertainment around the track.

All information about the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring can be found here