Silverstone…Thursday afternoon – Eventually got connected to the wi-fi system so we’re cooking! Have got a photographer’s sign-on shortly, then it is off to get some pix around the paddock area, because that is the only place where there is any action today apart from scrutineering.
Free practice starts on Friday, 24 August 2012, at 11h30, 16h00 and Saturday at 11h00 with the GTE qualifying (both Pro & Am) from 14h50-15h10 and the prototype qualifying from 15h20-15h40. At this stage the weather forecast says that we should be dry (-ish) on Friday, wet on Saturday and dry again for the main race on Sunday which begins at 12h00 sharp.
Just had an interesting chat with the chaps from Toyota, and they say that their car is ready for Sunday’s race. The mechanical problem that put the #7 Toyota out of the race at Le Mans in the early hours of the morning has been fixed and they should be going home with some silverware because a podium place is what they are aiming for. TMG saw 2012 as a development year for the team and they had originally planned to do just Spa, Le Mans and maybe one other race, but the plans are now to do not only Silverstone but also the four remaining races after that. If nothing else, that tells you that they are confident of challenging for the top spot, otherwise you can be sure that they wouldn’t be out there just for the fun.
In the GTE camp, Krohn Racing have been testing their 458 Italia at Snetterton on the quiet because they have switched from Dunlop rubber to Michelin. A team source said that they were ‘pleased’ with the test results although they had been hoping for some wet weather to get more data in Britain’s notorious wet weather, but this time they only got sunshine…never mind, you can’t win them all. Although the team are a bit short on testing time with the new Michelin boots, they expect to do well on Sunday.
The other big GTE player is the crowd from Stuttgart who have quite a lot to prove. After a fairly disappointing year so far, by their standards anyway, Porsche have come to Silverstone with a few tweaks to the aero package of the GT3 RSR that should see it’s performance improved by quite some measure. With just a second place at Le Mans (GTE Am), the most important race on the WEC calendar, the GT3 showed that it had not kept pace with its main opposition, that being the Ferrari 458 Italia. Competition will be very tight in this class, so watch this space over the weekend.
With the lights now ablaze in Silverstone’s new Wing pit complex (21h00 Thursday evening), all is eerily quiet around the circuit. However, the skies are heavy and dark here at Silverstone, and all the teams are doing their last minute preparations for the first free practice session on Friday, and with the weather being so unpredictable, the action is going to be very difficult to predict. With this being the fourth round of the WEC, barring some catastrophic failure by the Audis, the result is fairly certain even at this point. No matter what the outcome, the atmosphere up and down the paddock is buoyant and optimistic, so the action should be dynamic.
It’s 06h30 Friday morning at the circuit and already the security guards are out in force stopping all and sundry from going about their work. I was approached by a fellow journalist who asked, “Where are the crown jewels, where are the crown jewels?” He had just arrived and was complaining that he had been stopped and asked for his media pass (which was apparently not adequate according to that guard) and was told that he could not go any further – the media passes are all issued by the same media office. When the guard saw his parking permit he was allowed through – the mind boggles at the level of security necessary at these events.
Anyway, back to the racing – good weather greeted the new day on Friday but as we know this could change in an instant as the Met Office do forecast light rain today and a max temperature of 18°C. First free practice is about to start, so it’s off to see the action.