Le Mans WEC 2012


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In amongst the excitement of the new FIA Formula 1 World Championship, this weekend sees the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the first such series for 20 years.

17 MarchSebring 12 Hours (USA)
5 MaySpa 6 Hours (Belgium)
16-17 JuneLe Mans 24 Hours (France)
25 AugustSilverstone 6 Hours (Great Britain)
15 SeptemberInterlagos 6 Hours (Brazil)
29 SeptemberBahrain 6 Hours (Bahrain)
14 OctoberFuji 6 Hours (Japan)
27 OctoberShanghai 6 Hours (China)

Unfortunately the series is due to start on rather a damp squib, following Peugeot’s late announcement of their withdrawal from the championship. Toyota are due to bring their new TS030 prototype to six of the eight rounds, and will have two cars at Le Mans, but are not ready for Sebring this weekend, leaving Audi almost certainly in a race of their own for overall victory.

The German manufacturer returns with a largely unchanged driver line-up in its three cars, with only one addition: that of Loic Duval to the Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas car. If Audi face little or no external opposition, it should at least be interesting to see which of the three driver crews comes out on top.

Later in the season, the conventional turbodiesel R18s will be complemented by two hybrid “quattro” chassis, using flywheel storage technology developed with Williams Hybrid Power to supply recovered energy to the front axle. Toyota’s prototype, also a hybrid, uses super-capacitors rather than batteries or a flywheel.

Elsewhere in LMP1, the new HPD cars of Strakka and Nigel Stepney’s JRM team are likely to fight for best-of-the-rest honours with Rebellion Racing’s Lola-Toyota, who have Nick Heidfeld on the driving strength.

There will be the usual multi-marque battle in the GT class, with the AF Corse and Luxury Racing Ferrari teams taking on Felbermayr Porsche, the newly downsized Prodrive Aston Martin Vantage programme, Rahal-Letterman BMW, and Corvette Racing. BMW and Corvette are present as Sebring is also the opening round of the American Le Mans Series, and sadly these teams will not be competing in the full WEC – at least, not yet.

Sebring is being broadcast in part by Motors TV in the UK, with coverage starting at 14:15 tomorrow.
Well, Toyota aren't going to be at Spa this weekend after all.

The first chassis was written off in a testing accident and they either don't have a replacement, or don't want to risk it.

Making your race debut at Le Mans is not usually the best way to go about things.
Well, as expected, the Audi's swept the first four places, with their hybrids being 2nd and 4th. Since Toyota wasn't there, a lot of the interest was gone. It should be a fascinating Le Mans this year.
I agree completely. I am really looking forward to seeing the deltawings strutting their stuff on the circuit. The mulsanne should suit them admirably.
That's the thing about endurance racing and Le Mans series. F1 was once the shop front for innovation and new technology but not any more. The 6h of Spa yesterday was six hours of cut and thrust. Yes, the Audis cleaned up the top four but they had 2 vs 2 battle between the deisels and the hybrids. There was something there for everybody - chasing down and overtaking; issues and incidents (especially with lowr category and backmarkers), cock ups in the pits, car failures, spins and prangs. Loved it. Audi TV coverage is much better this year as well ... not just tooling round in car with Audi all race long as in past seasons.
Ouch! That's a drag. Lets hope someone steps in to take over its operations. A lot of private entries to endurance series rely on Lola for their chassis. If Lola goes altogether the prototype grids could be decimated for years.:(
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