The Le Mans 24 Hours is now just 3 weeks away. Are you getting excited? We continue our countdown to the big day with the last in our alphabet preview “What’s new in Sportscar Racing 2013” with Graham Goodwin fromDailysportscar.com
T is for Toyota
A big name team, with big facilities available and big expectations of success as they shed their “development year” tag from 2012 and embark on a full season with a two car attack. Their new car is less compromised, more easily serviceable (an essential part of modern endurance racing) and should be both faster and more reliable.
There has been controversy however over the equivalence between petrol and diesel fuelled racers once again. After the Spa 6 Hours where the new TS030 made its debut, Toyota made it clear that the current position is that the Audi diesel had much, much more power than they could squeeze out of their petrol fuelled machine. It could be that the outcome of that debate, as much as the cars inherent speed and reliability, defines the season to come.
T is for Talent
Whether it is young talent, with Alex Brundle, Oliver Turvey and Brendon Hartley in the vanguard, or those moving from other disciplines with ex F1 and Indycar drivers arriving in numbers in endurance racing, there have been plenty of new boys to follow over the past couple of seasons, and that’s a trend that looks set to continue.
And it isn’t just in LMP1 either, both LMP2 and GTE are now seen by many who would previously have dismissed sportscars as a viable, accessible and credible career path – So who is next?
U is for United Sportscar Racing Championship
The US RC is one that’s new for 2014 rather than 2013 but it presents plenty of questions for both the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am grids as the powers that be decide which races, which tracks and which cars will race in North America next season.
Will we see Daytona Prototypes at Le Mans in 2014 or 2015? Time will tell, but the fact that the USRC prime mover Jim France is going to start the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours seems to indicate that talks are well underway.
V is for Viper
The snake is back! Two evolutions ago the Chrysler Viper utterly dominated GT racing, the big V10 engined coupe won race after race, Championship after Championship on both sides of the Atlantic. Now the brand is SRT but the basic concept is unchanged, big engine, big power, an American muscle car with some very European dynamics added to the mix.
After a learning year in 2012 the cars have found their footing and will contest not only the ALMS but also the Le Mans 24 Hours – the prospects for some high decibel wheel to wheel drag races down the Hunaudieres with their deadly rivals at Corvette are high! If you are camping at the circuit you are sure to know when the Vipers are on track.
W is for World Champions
Drivers love to win races but Championships are special too and the prospect of being able to add ‘World ‘Champion’ to a racing CV has more than a minor motivational factor for many.
Certainly the battle at the sharp end in both LMP1 and GTE Pro thus far in the World Endurance Championship seems to indicate that we can expect the FIA WEC to be a dogfight from beginning to end! Bring it on!
X is for X Factor
That indefinable something that makes the very best just that little bit better. Approachable in person, near untouchable on track.
The fans know who these drivers are, and happily there are more and more of them, chatting easily in the paddock or at autograph sessions but then getting on track and doing things with a racing car that we mere mortals can barely comprehend!
Y is for Youngsters
Whether it is the younger drivers coming up through the GT ranks or prototype classes, or the single seater hopefuls finding that there is more to global Motorsport than F1, there has been a real influx of racing youth to sportscars of late.
The good news is that they are all looking to impress, and all may learn the hard way that this means bringing a car home in good shape both for your team-mates and for the race result. There will be thrills, spills, mistakes and glory – Stand back from the fences!
Z is for Z4 GTE
Sadly we won’t see this newest addition to the ranks of GTE racers in Europe this season. Not even at Le Mans which is a shame. Those lucky enough to attend the FIA WEC race at the Circuit of the Americas in August though will get the opportunity to see the GT3 derived cars in action in Saturday’s American Le Mans Series race.
Will we be writing in 12 months time here that BMW are back on the world stage? Well, watch this space.
There is certainly a lot to look forward to in sportscar racing this year and next. The best place to see it all will be trackside with Travel Destinations.