911 in Motorsport: FIA WEC Texas preview
A new race always adds extra excitement to any championship, and the addition of Texas as round five to the FIA World Endurance Championship is no different.
The Circuit of the Americas (built in 2012 for the US Grand Prix) is a challenge that is new to the majority of teams and drivers in this year’s championship. 3.42 miles of fast and flowing Tarmac await the drivers at the circuit near the Colorado River.
The first half of the lap requires lots of high-speed stability, with a sequence of bends reminiscent of Silverstone’s Maggots-Becketts sweeps. After this, the drivers will need to hustle the cars a bit more, as the corners tighten.
As well as its challenging layout, one of the defining features of the circuit is its huge changes in elevation throughout the lap. Thanks to this, drivers will have to deal with constantly shifting weight balances as they fight to keep their machines on the limit.
Of course, the GT classes didn’t need any more spicing up, with the championship battles well balanced heading into the second half of the season.
In the overall GTE standing, Porsche lie just four points behind Ferrari. Despite the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR (piloted by Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet) finishing third last time out, Weissach was forced to concede the championship lead in Sao Paulo.
Despite racing predominantly in America over the last few years, Bergmeister explains the challenge faced by himself, and the majority of the field.
“The greatest challenge for us all will be to quickly familiarise ourselves with the circuit and to find the optimal race set-up during practice”, the German said.
In the GTE-Pro drivers standings, the situation is even closer as 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans winners, Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz (drivers of the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR) sit just two points behind the works Aston Martin drivers, Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke.
Unlike the GTE-Pro class, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR leads the way in the GTE-Am category. IMSA Performance (their red, white, and blue livery complementing the circuit this weekend) has enjoyed a strong season thus far, including class victory at Le Mans.
Supercup scholarship racer Jean-Karl Vernay has stared across various series this year and, together with Raymond Narac they enter Texas with a six point advantage over their competitors.
In the other Porsche 911, run by Proton Competition, team owner Christian Ried will be looking to move up both the drivers standings and the team classification this weekend. He will be partnered, once again, by Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda.
While exploring the intracacies of the new Circuit of the Americas may shuffle up the status quo, all competitors were provided with four hours of testing yesterday (Thursday).
While the Aston Martins topped the GTE-Pro timesheets, the Bergmeister/Pilet Porsche 911 RSR was just 0.6 seconds off the fastest time.
In GTE-Am it was even closer, as IMSA Performance was just 0.093 seconds slower than the class-topping car.
The GT classes will take to the track for qualifying at 1800 GMT on Saturday, while six-hour race gets underway at 1600 GMT on the Sunday.
You can watch all the action on the FIA WEC website.