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FIA WEC Silverstone

Countdown to Le Mans; Part 1

Countdown to Le Mans: Five Post-Silverstone Storylines

The FIA World Endurance Championship – which includes the Le Mans 24 Hours – had its opening race last weekend at Silverstone, and provided a few hints as to what we can expect from this year’s twice-round-the-clock classic at La Sarthe.

Dailysportscar.com’s lead WEC reporter Stephen Kilbey looks back five of the key topics as the dust (& snow) settles on the 6 Hours of Silverstone:

1. Audi is back to winning ways… Well, sort of.

Audi R18

With so many question marks surrounding both Audi and Toyota, who enter the 2016 season with brand new cars, Silverstone was always going to be fascinating from an LMP1 point of view.

While Toyota were once again lacking pace, throughout the weekend, Audi and its brand new R18 looked like it may have the pace to challenge Porsche’s formidable 919 which won both Le Mans and the WEC title last season. Qualifying was held on a drying track after snowfall early Saturday morning, and Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler managed to stick their #7 Audi on pole for the first time since the 2013 6 Hours of Fuji.

In the race, the reigning WEC champion #1 Porsche of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard managed to snatch the lead off the Audi and race off into the distance. Hartley though, crashed out in dramatic fashion just before the halfway mark, almost rolling the prototype after tagging a GTE Porsche running through Farm curve.

The incident handed Audi its lead back, and triple Le Mans champions managed to hold off the other Porsche until the finish. However, a post-race technical check of the winning R18 revealed that the front plank was too worn, and therefore prompted the organisers to disqualify the car from the race. The #2 Porsche of Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani therefore claimed the victory.

While it’s way too early to tell if Porsche will win Le Mans again or not this year, all signs point to the 24 Hours being another close-fought affair.

2. The pace of the Hybrid prototypes is still astonishing

Porsche 919 Hybrid

The current era of P1 cars really do need to be seen to be believed. Last year, the factory prototypes took an enormous step in regard to raw performance, especially towards the end of the WEC season when Porsche turned up at the Nürburgring fresh from its 17th Le Mans win with a new aero package.

Going into 2016 the ACO has tried to peg back the top cars, forcing them to use 30% less fuel per lap. But intelligent engineers at Toyota, Porsche and Audi seem to have managed to gain the previous level of performance back that and a little bit more by improving other areas.

At Silverstone the P1 cars were going faster than 2016, producing lap-times comparable to that of a mid-pack Formula One car, but with a weightier chassis and more traffic to deal with. If the form continues on a low-drag circuit like Le Mans, then expect the lap-record to be broken once again in Qualifying if the weather holds out.

3. Ford could well have a good run at Le Mans

Ford GT

There’s a lot of pressure on GM’s finest going into this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, it being the 50th anniversary since Ford’s historic first win. Nevertheless, the new GTE programme continues to impress. The new Ford GT’s first outing at Daytona back in January was problematic, but fast forward a few months and it looks far more capable of a head-turning debut at the big one in eight weeks time.

Both of Ford Performance’s new cars ran faultlessly during the race at Silverstone, finishing up fourth and fifth in the GTE Pro class. On pace they weren’t able to challenge the might of AF Corse’s Ferraris, but the raw speed should come with its new found reliability.

With four factory-entered Fords due to compete at Le Mans, don’t be surprised if the GTE newcomers leave with an impressive result.

4. Aston Martin Racing looks far more competitive this year

Aston Martin Racing

2015 was tough for the British factory team run by Prodrive. Its Vantages were often far off front-running pace throughout the year and failed once again to win the GTE Pro class at Le Mans.

If the first round of 2016 is anything to go by though, Aston Martin looks in a lot better shape than was predicted. With brand new Dunlop tyres that will only get better with further development, a return to a green paint scheme and an aggressive aerodynamic overhaual to its Vantages, it should be able to build on the solid podium finish on home soil and win its class for the first time at Le Mans in eight years.

5. The WEC continues to build on its extremely positive foundation

Gulf Racing UK

While the Le Mans 24 Hours will always be the jewel in the WEC’s crown, the exceptional racing, interest from more blue-chip manufacturers and a very stable calendar is paying off big time for the FIA’s youngest World Championship.

Crowds at European rounds like Silverstone and Spa have been growing year on year, and that’s only a good thing for the future of sportscar racing as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours. Last year, a record crowd of 263,000 people turned up to La Sarthe in June to witness history, and with momentum continuing to build don’t be surprised if that record is shattered once again.

If you would like to attend the Le Mans 24 Hours 2016 then Travel Destinations have a selection of travel, ticket and camping packages available.

If you would like to attend the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring in July, then Travel Destinations also have an exclusive travel, ticket and trackside camping option available.

If you would like more information on either of these offers please click on the links above or call our reservations team on 0844 873 0203.

FIA WEC 2016

Introducing the FIA WEC 2016

The official prologue for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship took place over Easter weekend. This was the first chance for the public to see the new teams and cars in the flesh. Although little can be concluded from lap times at this stage, Stephen Kilbey from Dailysportscar, was trackside at Paul Ricard to give Travel Destinations a briefing on what to expect in the FIA WEC and at Le Mans 2016.

Porsche, Audi and Toyota are all back for another season which is posed to be just as enthralling as last year. Each team will be entering 2 cars each in 2016, so there is a level playing field at the front of the grid.

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche has opted to tweak its 919 Hybrid for the new season and take lots of small steps in an attempt to improve on performance, and nullify the ACO’s new restrictions on fuel-flow imposed to slow all the LMP1 cars down.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Audi and Toyota meanwhile enter 2016 with entirely new packages. Both the new Audi R18 and the Toyota TS050 are very different to what the teams ran last year, and that’s very apparent not just aesthetically, with new liveries and noticeable aero developments, but also under the covers too. The gamble here is whether the new technology will be as reliable as the tweaked tried and tested formula adopted by Porsche. Porsche topped the time sheets at Paul Ricard, but both Audi and Toyota showed quick sector times, without needing to put them all together. Ultimately the first race at Silverstone will really show us what each car is capable of.

Toyota TS050

In the privateer subdivision, one of the two teams present – Rebellion Racing – makes a return with two R-Ones, in a very similar package to last season, but a very shiny new livery which up-close is extremely detailed and in some ways mesmerising. The ACO have promised to review this class to try and enable them to be more competitive moving forward. Perhaps Rebellion’s efforts and consistency over the last few years deserves more.

Rebellion Racing

There are plenty of new faces in the LMP2 class this year. This is probably the most difficult grid to predict with many similarly powered cars lining up alongside each other. G-Drive Racing, after winning the LMP2 Championship last season, have partnered up with Jota Sport to run a brand new Oreca 05, sporting the team’s standard eye-catching livery.


Aside from that, both Signatech Alpine and ex-F1 outfit Manor have also purchased Orecas for the new season. Alpine’s blue and orange looks just as good on a prototype with a roof, and Manor’s fresh look – conceived by team principal Graeme Lowdon – will certainly stand out in what promises to be a very competitive field.

RGR Morand

RGR Morand’s very patriotic livery representing the re-branded team’s Mexican ties on the new Ligier is also one to look out for.
Much like LMP1 class the GTE Pro grid is oozing manufacturer interest, and the addition of Ford is a testament to the class’ relevancy in global GT racing.

Ford GT

On the subject of Ford, Chip Ganassi Team UK’s pair of GTs look astonishing up close, and with some more development should be in the running for some results throughout the season having already run at Daytona and Sebring in the States this year.

Ferrari 488

Outside of the Ford’s new car on the grid, the well-established AF Corse squad are back with two brand new Ferrari 488 GTEs which promise to be in contention for the title right away. When has a Ferrari not been in the mix over the last few years?

Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin Racing and Dempsey Proton Racing – Porsche’s only Pro representative this year – meanwhile have revised cars for the season. Aston martin’s Vantages are substantially more meaty in the rear diffuser department, and livery wise, after sporting Gulf colours since 2008, Aston Martin return to the team’s roots by running in a very smart (and British) green.

Although the Aston Martin’s will no longer be carrying the Gulf Oil branding, the famous colours won’t be missing from the grid, as European Le Mans Series graduates Gulf Racing UK are participating in the full FIA WEC season this year with their Porsche. It is certainly a striking car and sure to be a fan favourite.

Gulf Racing UK

Top to bottom, GTE Am’s foundations remain unchanged, although 2015 LMP2 runner-up KCMG are also set to run a Porsche in the 2016 FIA WEC championship.

As the clock ticks down to the start of the season at Silverstone from the 15th – 17th April, the work behind the scenes will be ramped up. The official prologue has certainly whetted the appetite for what is going to be another great endurance racing season.


The Le Mans 24 Hours remains the pinnacle in the endurance racing calendar and the jewel in the crown of the FIA World Endurance Championship. For those wishing to watch the racing live, travel, ticket and camping packages are still available from Official Agent Travel Destinations. Availability restrictions for certain areas apply, but it is still possible to reserve your place Le Mans 2016.

Travel Destinations also have exclusive offers to attend the FIA World Endurance Championship  rounds at both Spa-Francorchamps and the Nurburgring. Visit our dedicated site for more information and the best prices or call Travel Destinations direct now on 0844 873 0203.


Le Mans 24 Hours

The Fastest Le Mans

The 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours was a classic.

 History making speed, not just over single laps but over full stints, and indeed the whole race, a depth of quality that few other years have managed to match, and close racing between fierce rivals in every class all combined to give us one of THE best Le Mans’ ever.

So how fast was the 2015 race?

Look at it this way – more than one car was faster over a full stint, throughout the race, than the pole time set over a single lap last year, and the cars used less fuel year on year in doing so! That’s an astounding step forward.

Better still it wasn’t a race dominated by a single car, or a single make with Audi looking like real contenders as the race bludgeoned its way into the night.


Audi’s all too rare failure to secure the top spot came down to four issues: a freak accident for Loic Duval in the No.8 car, other cars confused by conflicting flag and light signals causing a knock-on effect with faster cars approaching from behind, a hybrid issue for the No.9 car which had been in real contention, bodywork issues for all three Audis that saw the No.7 car drop out of contention after losing part of the rear deck and, blinding speed from the Porsches, Nick Tandy in particular doing major damage to Audi’s aspirations during a mammoth three hour turn overnight that saw the No.19 car take control of the race.

A podium for the No.7 crew and an historic fastest race lap from Andre Lotterer were just consolation prizes for a team that seldom fails to find perfection.


Toyota were just plain off the pace, whatever sums were done in Cologne over the winter break seem to have come up with the wrong answers, and there are rumblings of major changes to come for the programme.

Nissan arrived with their extraordinary GT-R LM NISMO having mounted a rearguard action to reduce expectation levels. There was huge interest in the new cars, a major fan favourite effort, but the pace simply wasn’t there yet. No hybrid boost from a system that has proved troublesome throughout its gestation left the Nissans both struggling for pace and in major braking difficulties, the car having been designed to harvest braking energy, with that not available the knock-on effect left the team changing brakes regularly.


That said the team got a car home, albeit unclassified, and nearly made it two with the No.23 car out only as the final hour approached.

Porsche though deserved their first overall win since 1998. Sustained pace from all three cars, and almost problem-free running for the leading pair put them on top of the endurance racing world.

The headlines went to the drivers, current F1 man Nico Hulkenburg, young Kiwi Earl Bamber and Brit Nick Tandy, with the 1,2 completed by the No.17 car of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber.

The real stars though were the people that came up with the extraordinary 919 Hybrid, the first 4 cylinder powered car to win at Le Mans in over 80 years and a step forward in technology that, despite it’s huge leap in performance and efficiency, still produced rock solid reliability to allow pace of a quite extraordinary nature.

Who knows what they’ll produce for 2016?

Don’t forget to reserve your place at Le Mans 2016 with Travel Destinations now!

Written by Graham Goodwin
Photos by Dailysportscar

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Desceptive spring sunshine with a gusting cold wind welcomed race fans to Silverstone yesterday for the 1st round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. After the new “Le Mans style” team line ups and national anthem on the grid before the green flag it was down to business for all the teams keen to start the season with a class win.

Porsche had locked out the front row from Saturday’s qualifying and they continued to show that speed as both cars accelerated away from the chasing pack. The opposite happened to the No. 7 Audi as it struggled to get off the line straight away. Not only did the driver, Treluyer, see the rest of the LMP1 grid continue around the first corner, but he was then passed by most of the LMP2 runners as well. It may have been the surprise of the slow running Audi that caused the new Strakka Racing Dome (LMP2) to immediately spin off in to the gravel, sending them to the very back of the grid.

Within 6 minutes of the start the leaders were in traffic as they caught up with the back markers in the GTE field. The closing speeds between the two classes were amazing. The speeds of the whole LMP1 grid werte impressive throughout. The lap times were comparable with the middle runners of the F1 grid last year. Bearing in mind the weight of the cars, the fuel and the distance of the race, this was quite amazing. Mark Webber’s Porsche was particularly quick, pulling out a 10 second advantage on his team mate in second place. Behind them the battle between Audi and Toyota for third place saw them trading places in and out of various corners.

Just behind the leaders in the LMP2 field the KCMG Racing prototype benefitted from a great start to take the lead in class, but within the first hour it was being chased down by the two orange and black G Drive cars. Despite a valiant effort from Tandy behind the wheel, he was passed on consecutive laps and the G Drive cars didn’t look back. The returning Strakka Racing car, was recovering from the spin at the back of the class and had a difficult view as it began to fight its way back through the congested field of cars.

Aston Martin began at the front of the GTE Pro field and started well, initially holding off the challenge of Porsche, with Ferrari staying out of trouble and watching developments unfold in front of them. GTE Am was equally close with the sole Corvette getting ahead of the Porsche and the AF Corse Ferrari, with Aston Martin waiting behind.

The running order was to change just in to the second hour. The leading Porsche, with Mark Webber at the wheel, was recalled to the pits and wheeled back in to the garage. Unfortunately it was never able to return to the race, as a driveshaft failure curtailed their race, leaving a lone Porsche out at the front.

Audi’s double challenge was reduced in force shortly after Porsche. Following an impact with a GTE Porsche at Becketts, the No. 8 Audi had to return to the pits for bodywork repair. Time in the garage cost the car a lap to the leaders, but the damage appeared a little more than cosmetic as the car never really recovered and continued to look unstable when it returned to the track. The car had a spin later with Olly jarvis at the wheel and their challenge was all but over.

At the front the battle was really just getting interesting. Over the period of more than an hour the remaining Audi and Porsche became locked in a tremendous battle. They were also briefly joined by the No. 1 Toyota as the pit stop strategy panned out. The lead constantly changed between the cars while Neel Jani and Marcel Fassler, expertly weaved their cars through the traffic. The Porsche was clearly able to pull away from the Audi along the straights, but it was quickly reeled in again by the Audi under passed under braking in to the corners. The battle continued for lap after lap, neither able to put any distance between themselves and their rival, despite different pit stop & tyre stinting strategies.


Eventually the No. 7 Audi managed to build a small gap and the Porsche had to be careful as the chasing Toyotas double stinted the tyres bringing them back in to the mix. Toyota and Porsche both challenged the leader throughout the rest of the race, but neither could hold the lead for any length of time, and going in to the last hour the Audi continued to lead with a gap of almost 40 seconds.

The LMP2 race became a comfortable 1 -2 for the G-Drive Racing. Once they had passed the KCMG car they built a lead that could never be surpassed. The No. 26 car finished ahead of the sister Ligier. The battle behind them saw the fluorescent green Extreme Speed HPD car finish in the third podium spot, but they were later disqualified by the stewards for worn planks beneath the car. This meant a late promotion for the Strakka Racing Dome that had fought its way back from that initial spin at the first corner. A great effort from the British based team.

The GTE Pro race was much tighter. The initial dominance of Aston Martin was undermined by a pit strategy mistake under a full course yellow, that set their pit stops off against the Porsche and Ferraris who ended up making less stops. The Manthey Porsche team looked strong but ultimately it was the vast experience of Bruni and Vilander that brought the ever-reliable AF Corse Ferrari home in front for the win.

Aston Martin had greater success in the GTE Am class, with the No. 98 car holding off the challenge from Ferrari to win the class. The No. 50 Larbre competition Corvette would probably have mounted a real challenge, but it sustained damage after a collision with a speeding Audi and the resultant run across the gravel.

Back in the top class it was difficult to call a winner right up until the end. Audi continued ahead of Porsche who were in turn still ahead of Toyota; a three way fight to the finish. The Audi had built enough of a gap to enable them to pit for a splash and dash to the line, but the Porsche and Toyota were closing. Just as the Audi was coming in for that last stop, the stewards gave the Audi a stop/go penalty for overtaking GTE cars by pulling off the track. The Audi came back to the pitlane following their outlap and served their penalty to emerge again just seconds ahead of the closing Porsche. The gap was now much reduced to just 8 seconds with only 10 laps remaining.

In the last few laps the Toyota in third continued to catch the Porsche in second, who in turn was catching the leading Audi. The Porsche closed the gap to less than 8 seconds but couldn’t quite catch the Audi. Marcel Fassler held on to give the No. 7 Audi the win and start the 2015 FIA WEC season on the top of the podium.

This was an incredible endurance race, and sets up the rest of the season perfectly. All three prototype challengers appear to have improved on last year’s models and there is clearly little to choose between them. Nissan (who were displaying their cars at Silverstone) will be added to the cocktail at Le Mans. This could be the best FIA World Endurance Championship season yet.

You can join us at the next 3 rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship. We have travel, tickets and camping options available for Spa-FrancorchampsLe Mans and the Nurburgring. Call us now on 0844 873 0203 to reserve your place!