This blog will expand on themes and topics first mentioned in my book, "The Automobile and American Life." I hope to comment on recent developments in the automobile industry, reviews of my readings on the history of the automobile, drafts of my new work, contributions from friends, descriptions of the museums and car shows I attend and anything else relevant to those interested in automobiles and auto history. Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 , 2016, 2017, by the author.
Friday, April 14, 2017
World Endurance Championship at Silverstone, Easter Weekend, 2017
WEC: High tension expected for first duel of the season
The coming weekend, April 14 to 16, sees Porsche start the first out of nine rounds of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship. The Silverstone six-hour race will be the first duel between the reworked Porsche 919 hybrid and the latest Toyota TS050 Hybrid. It also marks the return of a Porsche GT works team following a year-long development period.
Porsche, world champions and Le Mans winners in 2015 and 2016 respectively, targets the defence of both titles. But in England the LMP team expects a difficult start. In support of the aerodynamic strategy for the entire season, the Porsche 919 Hybrids will run at the Northamptonshire circuit with significantly less downforce than the fast bends of the challenging Grand Prix track realistically demand.
The race marks the return of the Porsche GT works team following a year-long development period. It runs two newly developed 911 RSR. The 510 hp race car from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, celebrated its successful debut in January at the 24 Hours of Daytona. FIA, as the world’s governing body of motorsport, has further enhanced the GT category of the WEC by officially giving it world championship status this season for the first time.
The eagerly anticipated first race for the 27-car field gets underway on Sunday at 12 hrs. Track action on the 5.9 kilometre long Formula One circuit can be followed live from basically all over the world.
The Silverstone Circuit with legendary corners such as Becketts, Copse and Stowe is one of the world’s most storied racetracks. On 13 May, 1950, the circuit hosted the first modern-day Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Porsche drivers
The newly assembled line-up of the Porsche LMP1 works drivers feel well-rehearsed after winter testing and the WEC Prologue in Monza (IT). Reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH) has the number 1 on the car he shares with Nick Tandy (GB) and Porsche newcomer André Lotterer (DE). The number 2 sister car belongs to the two New Zealanders, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, together with Timo Bernhard (DE).
Four works drivers tackle the GTE-Pro class with the new 911 RSR for the Porsche GT Team at the season-opening round in Silverstone. Sharing the cockpit of the #91 vehicle are Richard Lietz (Austria), the WEC GT Champion of 2015, and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) man the #92 car. In the GTE-Am class, the Porsche customer team Dempsey Proton Racing campaigns a 911 RSR from last season with the Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Christian Ried (Germany) and Marvin Dienst (Germany) sharing driving duties.
The new 919 Hybrid
The Porsche 919 Hybrid
The Porsche 919 Hybrid has been widely reworked for the 2017 championship. 60 to 70 per cent of the Le Mans prototype’s components are new developments. This goes especially for the areas of aerodynamics, chassis and combustion engine. However, the power train in principle remains the same. The innovative hybrid race car develops a system power of around 900 HP (662 kW) that comes from a compact two-litre turbo charged V4-cylinder (nearly 500 PS/368 kW) and two different energy recovery systems – brake energy from the front axle combined with exhaust energy. The combustion engine drives the rear axle while the electro motor boosts the front axle with an output of more than 400 PS (294 kW). The electrical energy that comes from the front brakes and the exhaust system is temporarily stored in a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery.
The Porsche 911 RSR
The 911 RSR is a completely new development: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed in Weissach from scratch. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is now positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). Thanks to the particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing, the level of downforce and the aerodynamic efficiency were significantly improved. The 911 RSR also contests the WEC sporting the further developed factory design with the primary colours white, red and black.
The new 911 RSR
Quotes before the season’s opening race
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “The team has done an amazing job during the recent weeks and months. Now it’s time to finally go racing. The Prologue has proven that we can expect a very tough fight with Toyota. Silverstone is going to be a six-hour sprint race.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “With regards to reliability, we have been fine at our 30-hour test in Paul Ricard as well as at the Prologue in Monza. We feel well prepared for the first six-hour race. However, with regards to lap-times, Silverstone is going to be difficult. In the name of cost saving, the 2017 regulations permit only two aero kits per season. We have managed our resources the way that we focus on developing and testing our Le Mans aerodynamics until the third race of the season is over. This means low downforce for the benefit of low drag and this unavoidably will be a disadvantage in Silverstone. After the Le Mans 24 Hours in June we will consequently arm the 919 with more downforce for the remaining championship rounds. Another new challenge that is addressed by the rules is the reduced amount of tyres. Two fuel tank fillings – in other words about 90 minutes racing – with the same set of slick tyres will be standard. This requires very sensible tyre management.”
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “It feels good to be back in the WEC with the GT works team and with our entirely newly developed 911 RSR. At the Prologue a week ago in Monza, our team was able to prepare for all possible racing situations and the drivers’ feedback on the 911 RSR was very positive. Still, the competition in the extremely popular GTE-Pro class is hard to gauge. After the first race we’ll have a better idea of where we stand. In any case, Silverstone promises to be an exciting start to the season.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “We travel to Silverstone well prepared. We used the WEC Prologue at Monza to work on setting up the car and try out double stints on one set of tyres with a view to the first race of the season. The grip level on the Silverstone Circuit is very high and puts very special demands on the setup. The fact that we’re only permitted four sets of tyres per race this season makes it all the more important to use the tyres optimally.