Saturday 18 August 2018

WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone - Pre-race Jox Jottings

Having missed Le Mans 24hrs for ‘technical reasons’ (or more accurately accreditation reasons!) it is good to be back at Silverstone for round three of The Super Season. There has been a long summer break since Le Mans back in June. 

However the technical fellows at FIA WEC have not been idle! Toyota had a very convincing victory at Le Mans as we know, so there was a call to ‘level the playing field’ to give the other LMP1 teams a reasonable chance of at least a getting a glimpse of the silverware. Toyota got their first ever win since they began racing at Le Mans. Alonso moved from F1 to Le Mans and achieved ‘part two’ of his dream to win Le Mans, Monaco and Indianapolis. But for some observers the Toyota victory was seen as slightly hollow, forgone conclusion. OK the cars survived for 24 hours but there was no serious competition and they finished 12 laps ahead of the rest of the field.. Credit where credit is due it is not easy winning at Le Mans as Toyota knew only too well! As a result The FIA World Endurance Championship organisation set about having a go at applying a modestly sized roller to the playing field between the hybrid Toyotas and the other non-hybrid LMP1s by making changes to the Equivalence of Technology (EoT) rules. Equivalence of Technology? A degree in particle physics would come in handy here and we don’t happen to have one! 

But the outcome of all this for Silverstone was the removal of the promised 0.25% lap time advantage given to Toyota. At Le Mans this was reckoned to worth around half a second a lap, that doesn’t sound much but over 388 laps it all begins to add up! 

Next up are changes to the fuel flow to the non hybrid engines which has been upped to 115kg/h from 108kg/hr’ Again rather hard to comprehend for us lesser mortals! Easier to get to grips with is the refuelling rig restrictor size has been increased. This means fuel can go in faster and as a result less time in the pits. 

Ironically it was this area of technology that caused the downfall and exclusion of the two TDS run cars at Le Mans. This is still under appeal.

Weight is easier to understand..the normally aspirated cars have been given a 15kg weight reduction..  

A WEC statement said that the changes were designed to 
"Ensure an appealing top category and achieve the best possible balance between the performance potential of cars using both hybrid and non-hybrid technologies."

It will not come as a great surprise to hear that Ginetta won’t be here this weekend. It is a long and complex saga that is getting no easier to fully explain. However plenty of words appear elsewhere but the latest news is that Ginetta have changed their Mecachrome’s 3.4-litre V6 engine to the AER P60B twin-turbo V6. This was because Ginetta reckoned they were down on power with the Mecachrome engine but interestingly the AER engined car didn’t finish at Le Mans while the Mecachrome one did.  This story will run and run but they are not here at Silverstone

In GTE-Pro it was fair to say that at Le Mans and Spa Aston Martin did not prosper as far as Balance of Performance was concerned. They were way off the pace through no fault of their own. Balance of Performance is a blunt instrument to say the least but WEC have tried to make amends for Silverstone. So both the Aston Martin and Ferrari 488 GTE Evos have received BOP adjustments for Silverstone.

A pair of the ‘new-generation’ Aston Martin Vantage GTEs have arrived at this weekend’s Six Hours of Silverstone but now armed with more power. In Aston Martin’s case their new turbocharged V8 engine gets a significant increase in turbo boost throughout its power band. Plus they get an extra five litres of fuel to take into account the increase in power.
Additionally, the Astons will have 5 litres of additional fuel capacity to take into account the increased power. On the other hand Ferrari only get a small increase in power There have been no adjustments for BMW, Ford and Porsche .

Finally.. you may have heard that Bruno Senna had a big accident in free practice when he went off at Copse driving the #1 Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson. The good news is that despite the scale of the accident Bruno emerged with a fractured ankle but won’t be racing again this weekend. The car was rebuilt for qualifying and is 6th on the grid. The stewards are allowing the team to run with just two drivers. We wish Bruno well and look forward to maybe seeing him back out in October for the Fuji round.  

Jock Simpson