2016 FIA WEC: Six Hours of Silverstone preview
The home of British motorsport hasn’t been the happiest hunting ground for Porsche, at least not since its return to top level sports car racing in 2014. Last year’s second place an improvement over 2014 but the Porsche 919 Hybrid still had to play second fiddle to Audi at the Six Hours of Silverstone.
However, with a revised 919 Hybrid at its disposal, plus the psychological boost of running no. 1 and no. 2 on its pair of LMP1 prototypes, Porsche will be hoping for a better showing at Silverstone in 2016.
Contrary to previous years, Porsche Team will compete at the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship with a dedicated aero package designed for the high-speed 3.66-mile circuit (in 2014 and 2015, Porsche ran its super low downforce Le Mans package).
This will undoubtedly put Porsche in a better position with regards to ultimate lap time and the 919 Hybrid appears, from the outside at least, to have enjoyed a positive off season, completing thousands of miles of winter testing without an rumours of major problems.
For the third season in a row, the driver line-ups in the two factory Porsches remains the same. Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard (last year’s world champions) team up again in the no. 1 entry while Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani will race the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
The latter crew will certainly be hoping to right the wrongs of last season when early season reliability problems left them to play bridesmaid to the Webber/Hartley/Bernhard car. A repeat of last year’s podium (at least) will be well received on their side of the garage.
While Porsche continues its factory team in the LMP1 class, the Porsche Team Manthey squad will be absent from the 2016 GTE-Pro class as the works GT focuses on developing the new 911 GT3 R.
Despite this, Weissach will still be supporting a car in the GTE-Pro ranks as Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz (the 2015 FIA WEC GT champion) return to defend Porsche’s title in an updated 911 RSR for the Dempsey-Proton Racing squad.
They will be joined by a brace of Porsche 911 RSRs in the GTE-Am class led by the return of Gulf Racing, the British team entering an evocatively-liveried Porsche 911 RSR for Michael Wainwright, Adam Carroll and Total 911 columnist, Ben Barker.
Porsche Club Great Britain members attending Silverstone can take advantage of complimentary hospitality on the Saturday of the race weekend. Courtesy of Porsche Cars GB, Club members are invited to the Porsche Experience Centre, with shuttle buses running from the Porsche Club Race Centre to the PEC from 10:00am until 3:45pm. Members will need to show their membership card on arrival to take advantage of, among other benefits, an excellent view of the track from the PEC’s rooftop terrace.
Free practice for the Six Hours of Silverstone takes place on Friday with qualifying on Saturday. The race will be green flagged at 12pm GMT on Sunday. Look out for a dedicated race report on Total911.com next week.