The FIA is making its way to Texas for the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship on Saturday, Sept. 19, for the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas. The six-hour race will be the third time the WEC has raced at the track near Austin and the second time the Lone Star Le Mans has been run in partnership with the Tudor United Sports Car Championship.
In total 31 cars, representing 10 different nations and 86 drivers from 19 countries across the globe will be competing at the Lone Star Le Mans event.
American drivers feature in the LMP2 and LMGTE Am classes with Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jonathan Fogarty all racing for the Tequila Patron sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports squad in LMP2. In LMGTE Am, actor Patrick Dempsey and Porsche works driver Patrick Long have been enjoying success on the world stage after finishing on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The pair is hoping for more success closer to home.
In addition to the drivers from the USA, Canadian Paul Dalla Lana has been enjoying a successful season in the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage with two class wins at Silverstone in the UK and at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium with his teammates Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda.
Ricardo Gonzalez returns to the World Endurance Championship in 2015 and the former winner of the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is racing in the No. 28 G-Drive Ligier with Gustavo Yacaman and ‘Pipo’ Derani. The Latin American trio have already tasted success with a win in Belgium last May.
The top LMP1 class will feature nine cars and 26 drivers, with manufacturers Audi, Porsche and Toyota once again fielding a pair of entries each. After winning last time out in Germany and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche will be the team to beat in Texas and currently hold a 33-point lead over Audi in the world manufacturer’s championship.
Drivers of the No. 17 919 hybrid, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took their first win for Porsche in Germany and Webber’s F1 success at Circuit of the Americas will certainly put them in a good position. However the three drivers are currently 17 points behind Audi’s Benoit Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fassler in the world driver’s championship after the 2012 world champions scored overall wins at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps earlier in the season.
Audi’s driver lineup also features the only South American on the LMP1 grid as Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi is joined by former world champion Loic Duval and Britain’s Oliver Jarvis in the No. 8 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro.
Reigning world champions Toyota have been trailing the two German manufacturers in 2015 but are hoping that the first race outside Europe will see a change in their fortunes. Former Indycar racer Mike Conway is part of the No. 2 TS040 hybrid crew alongside former F1 drivers Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin. The No. 1 car is crewed by current world driver champions Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson, who are joined by Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima.
The LMP1 grid is completed by the privateer teams with Austrian team Bykolles once again taking on the pair of successful Rebellion Racing R-One’s.
LMP2 features eight entries, including two for Russia’s G-Drive Racing, two for US team ESM, one for reigning European Le Mans Series champions Signatech Alpine, Britain’s Strakka Racing, Swiss team Sard Morand and one for Hong Kong based KCMG, who have won the last two WEC races at Le Mans and Nurburgring. The winning Le Mans drivers will be reunited as Nicolas Lapierre takes the third seat alongside Richard Bradley and Matt Howson.
There are seven entries in LMGTE Pro, with the works teams from Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin competing against each other for the manufacturers GTE world title and in 2016 they will be joined by Ford, who are return to the world stage with the Ford GT .nThis year world champions Ferrari are facing a strong challenge from Porsche after the German team won at home at the Nurburgring last month. Ferrari still holds a 24-point advantage and will be hoping for a return to winning ways in Texas.
In LMGTE AM, the Aston Martins, Porsches and Ferraris are joined by the Chevrolet Corvette C7 run by French team Larbre Competition. Russia’s SMP Racing and Italy’s AF Corse run the two Am spec Ferrari 458s with Aston Martin Racing also fielding a pair Vantage V8s. The two Porsche 911s are run by Germany’s Proton Competition, one under the Dempsey Racing banner for Patrick Dempsey and the other for Abu-Dhabi Racing with Khaled Al Qubaisi joined by Porsche works driver and 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Earl Bamber and Christian Ried.
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