2014 FIA WEC: Spa Six Hours preview
After strong showings for both the LMP1-class Porsche 919 Hybrid and the 2014 911 RSR at Silverstone, Weissach will be heading to Belgium’s Ardenne region with a good degree of confidence ahead of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship’s second round.
The two Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs secured an impressive one-two at the home of British motorsport, while the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, and Mark Webber made the overall podium on its competitive debut.
At Silverstone the two Porsche LMP1 cars ran in low downforce specification meaning that they lacked the ultimate pace to challenge the dominant Toyotas for the race victory.
However, Spa’s fast, sweeping nature should suit the 919 Hybrid in its current guise. “In terms of aerodynamics, we will only have a small amount of downforce, but we have a good top speed and this should count more in Spa than it did in England,” explains Neel Jani, driver of the #14 Porsche 919.
While all the Porsche 919 driver believe Belgium should bring them closer to the pace-setting Audis and Toyotas, as the last event before Le Mans, Porsche Team will want to ensure that they gain as much data as possible, something that isn’t lost on Fritz Enzinger.
“There are countless more situations ahead during which we will find ourselves first timers,” the LMP1 Vice President explains. “The second championship round is the dress rehearsal for Le Mans. Our main target for Spa is clearly to finish the race with both Porsche 919 Hybrids.”
Although the 919 Hybrid will once again be the centre of attention at Spa, the Porsche 911 RSR’s assault on the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship will also be a key focus of the Weissach team this weekend.
Last season, the Porsche 911 RSR’s only FIA WEC victory came at the 24 Hours of Le Mans however, this year, Porsche Team Manthey secured a one-two finish in the opening round of 2014, vaulting the two Turbo-bodied racers to the head of the championship standings.
Porsche will want to head to La Sarthe next month still atop the points classification however, their cause has been hit by a Balance of Performance adjustment made by the FIA as a result of their Silverstone dominance.
Despite this, Hartmut Kristen is confident the two works 911 RSRs will continue to challenge for victory in the GTE-Pro class: “We were given a tough penalty for our success,” says the Porsche Head of Motorsport.
“But our drivers and the team have shown that they are able to respond quickly to changing conditions and with the right strategies.” With Spa more suited to the RSRs than Silverstone, Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet in the #91 entry, and Marco Holzer and Frédéric Makowiecki in the #92 RSR will still expect to challenge at the head of the field.
Their Silverstone partners, Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz will be on US duty at Laguna Seca, meaning that they will miss the six-hour race due to get underway at 2:30pm (CET). However, the duo will return for Le Mans in June.