Published on May 7th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)
Drivers love her corners, fans enjoy the atmosphere, engineers become desperate about the layout: At the Spa-Francorchamps circuit the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) holds its second of nine rounds on May 7. The six-hour race on the breath-taking track in the Ardennes mountains counts as the dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours (June 18/19). This is due to the Belgian circuit’s long full throttle sections, which are approached with low downforce. The aerodynamic configuration is key and will be a mixture between the Silverstone (high downforce) and the Le Mans specifications (minimum drag).
Brief review: At the season’s opening round in Silverstone it became clear that the class 1 Le Mans prototypes, of which the Porsche 919 Hybrid is one of them, hadn’t become any slower despite having eight per cent less fuel available per lap. The fastest race lap (Neel Jani, 1:40.303 minutes) was over half a second quicker than last year’s bench mark in the race (Audi, 1:40.836 minutes), and even nearly two seconds better than last year’s fastest race lap set by a Porsche (1:42.245 minutes).
The Porsche trio of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) is currently leading the drivers’ championship and wants to defend this position, or preferably extend it. The sister car’s crew with the reigning World Champions Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) had a solid lead of 45 seconds in Silverstone, but retired after an accident when lapping a GT car and desperately wants to catch up now.
“Both our cars were competitive enough to win the Silverstone race,” said Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, “but both had incidents. In Spa we must have a package in place that’s just as competitive, but serving different demands. Spa may see a new balance of competition. We have to fully exploit the 919 Hybrid’s potential, finish the race with two cars and score as many points as possible.”
Team Principal Andreas Seidl pointed out: “A car’s configuration for what is an over seven kilometre long up-and-down-hill circuit is always a compromise between enough downforce for the fast corners and little drag on the long straights. At our endurance test in Aragon last week we were examining our Le Mans aero package for the first time, and will now use components of that in Spa. Regarding reliability and crew training, the 30-hour test was positive and we feel ready for round two of the championship.”