The 2014 season of the World Endurance Championship comes to Belgium this weekend. The second round of what is currently one of the most gruelling racing series around will be held at Circuit de Spa Francorchamps and will run for six hours.
Now, the first round of the championship, the Six Hours of Silverstone held on the 20th of April was a real stunner. The race was red flagged due to heavy rains, cutting it short by about 24 minutes. The Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi finished in first position, with Alexander Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima in the other Toyota came in second. The much-awaited debut of the innovative Porsche 919 Hybrid (read more about it here), was a success. The highly complex LMP1 car of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber claimed third. The sister car of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb retired after an hour and fifteen minutes due to technical issues.
Both the Audi R18 e-tron quattros however, failed to finish for the first time since the Road Atlanta round of the Petit Le Mans 2011. The car of Lucas Di Grassi, Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen retired early on in the race and the second car of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer crashing 47 laps before the end.
After Silverstone, in the championship standings for the LMP1 manufacturers class, Toyota leads with 44 points, Porsche claims second with 14 points and Audi is last with 0.
REBELLION Racing used their car from last year, the Lola-Toyota at the Silverstone round. They will run their new R-One LMP1 Prototype from the race at Spa onwards. They are running in the LMP1-L class for privateers, the first time a class such as this has been included in the WEC. Team Lotus is also working on a LMP1 car after switching from the LMP2 class in which they competed last year. The new car will be called the Lotus T129, and the team is expected to begin their campaign from round three.
In the LMP2 category, solely contested by Nissans, Team Morgan Nissan claimed their class victory at Silverstone, while Team ORECA 03 Nissan took second, third and fourth places. The LMGTE Pro class largely remains the same from last season, with Porsche, Aston Martin and AF Corse Ferrari each with two full-season cars. The Porsche 911 RSRs took first and second places in their class while Aston Martin running V8 Vantages claimed third while the other car claimed seventh. AF Corsa Ferrari claimed fourth, fifth and sixth in their 458 Italias.
The LMGTE Am class consists mainly of drivers who own teams and drivers who pay for their racing seats. In Silverstone, Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeir Hansson and Nicki Thiim placed first while Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard placed second both teams running Aston Martin V8 Vantages while Stephen Wyatt, Michele Rugolo, Sam Bird claimed third in their Ferrari 458 Italia.
With the build up to the third round of the season – the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June – the World Endurance Championship is one to follow as it only going to get more interesting as the year wears on. For information on exactly what transpires at Spa this weekend, watch this space.