A really cold wind greeted the teams, media and attendees on Thursday at the start of the WEC Silverstone 6 Hours. And although it was dark overhead at times, the day remained dry. This day was given over to set up, preparation and scrutineering, and apart from some practice by the ELMS and supporting races, there was no EC action at all.
Thursday 13 April 2017
Where previously the teams tolerated the attention of journalists and photographers in the pit lane, this year was different. The garage doors remained firmly closed, and doors of the scrutineering bays also remained closed. Photographs were therefore limited to the odd stolen snap when a door opened, or when a car was wheeled down the pit lane. Ironically, the garages that were open were the two LMP1 manufacturers, Porsche and Toyota, usually far more secretive than the others in the pit lane.
Friday 14 April 2017
The WEC action begins today in earnest for all four classes with a one and a half hour Free Practice 1 (FP1) session from 11h45-13h15, and again FP2 from 16h45-18h15. This will be the first season where Porsche and Toyota will go head to head without Audi, and an interesting battle this will be as Porsche are out to secure their third consecutive world title. Toyota on the other hand have unfinished business after their dramatic finish at Le Mans last year.
The LMP2 class this year will be a whole new ball game. For the first time in WEC, the LMP2 cars will run with a 600bhp 4.2-litre naturally aspirated Gibson V8, and lap times are expected to be between 4-5 seconds a lap quicker than last year. This means that they will be a lot closer to the LMP1 cars than ever before. You can expect some good scraps in this class over the weekend, although being so new, there may be some reliability issues. Also new this season for LMP2 is the spec chassis and although four chassis manufacturers have been selected by the WEC for this WEC Silverstone 6 Hours, only Oreca 07 chassis will be in action this season in LMP2.
Eight cars will make up the GTE Pro class, two cars each from Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Ford. The Ferraris and Fords were at each other’s throats last season, while Porsche was absent from the WEC series in this class as their newcomer was not ready in time. However, they are back this year with their new mid-engined 911 RSR, and have already shown their pace at Daytona and Sebring. You can expect Aston Martin to be there to keep all of the above honest.
The GTE Am class is a bit smaller than in previous years, with two Ferraris, two Porsches and just the single Aston Martin. This is a very hotly contested class, and some extremely seasoned drivers populate this class, so the action will be every bit as intense as before.
Today is the only day that is forecast to have any rain, and that might come later in the afternoon. While the rest of the WEC Silverstone 6 Hours race weekend is set to be dry, it is the wind that makes it feel bitterly cold around the circuit. But just twelve months ago we had snow over the weekend, so April at Silverstone can really throw anything at you.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale + John Mountney