Thursday 14 September 2017

FIA WEC 2017 - 6 Hours of COTA: weekend preview

2 weeks after the last race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, it's off to Texas for the sixth round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of the Americas just outside Austin. This is the final race before the WEC heads off to Asia with 3 races to go iin China, Japan and the season closing race at Bahrain, and – as it's been called in the paddock – the second race of the Porsche 919 farewell tour. 

In the past four years, the Lone Star Le Mans race was a double header with the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, making the 6 Hours FIA WEC race a race into the night with start at 5 pm.  With the IMSA away from the FIA WEC race this year, the 6 hour race will be green flagged at noon on Saturday.  This will present a whole different approach and challenge for teams and drivers with heat (well over 35° C) and humidity at its highest during the afternoon. 

© Toyota Motorsport

No Anthony Davidson in the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 this weekend. Absent for personal reasons in Austin, he will be replaced by St├ęphane Sarrazin, who also drove for Toyota at Spa and Le Mans this season.  Toyota also hasn't made a decision yet wether they will remain in the FIA World Endurance Championship or not. An announcement is to be expected in October, most likely around the Fuji race.  If Toyota is bound to stay, they will be the only manufacturer left in the LMP1 class, facing the opposition of new privateer teams.

Matt Rao and Ben Hanley are back in the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca, after their impressive performance in Mexico 2 weeks ago. After leading the class for a substantial part of the race, both English drivers together with Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne finished third in the LMP2 class, scoring the first podium for the team since their debut in the FIA WEC last season. 

The automatic Balance of Performance system in the LMGTE Pro class has given the Ford GT a weight reduction of 2 kg, now down to 1269 kg. The turbo boost has also been modified with a small increase of 0,01 bar. All other cars haven't been affected by the BoP.  In the Am class, there's also one slight adjustment with the #98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda getting a weight reduction of 10 kg, down to 1198 kg. 
© Jason Gore/
The #97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner, Jonathan Adam and Daniel Serra is back in its blue/yellow Valero livery. They earlier raced the car in this colors at the season opening race at Silverstone in April.  All Aston Martins are supporting the Royal Airforce Benevolent Fund this weekend, supporting an exclusive Aston Martin Vanquish S Red Arrows car raffle. Celebrating two of the most iconic marques in British history and engineering, Aston Martin Cambridge has commissioned 10 “Aston Martin Vanquish S Red Arrows” cars as a unique tribute to the Royal Airforce Acrobatic team. 

© Jason Gore/
They are donating the 10th car for an amazing raffle which goes on to December 1st. Approved by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Air Force, this is one of the most exclusive Aston Martin cars ever built, with custom details throughout highlighting the prestigious iconic brands' partnership. It has many bespoke features including the Red Arrows squadron crest lacquered into AMi III screen veneer and unique sill covers with Diamond Nine formation engraved. More info about the car, the raffle and how to obtain tickets can be found on

Track action for the FIA World Endurance championship is bound to start in Thursday 12h00 local time with the first 90 minute free practice session.  The second free practice session is planned for 16.30h in the afternoon. 

Useful links: 

Kristof Vermeulen
Aston Martin Benevolent Fund & Royal Airforce pictures courtesy of Jason Gore