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Endurance FIAWEC

Highlights of the FIAWEC Spa-Francochamps six hour race

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Endurance FIAWEC

Motor-racing and Tetris – the logistical challenges for Porsche of worldwide motorsport

Entering the two highly complex Porsche 919 Hybrids at the overseas races of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship does not just pose new sporting challenges for the Porsche Team. The logistics are a race of their own for the LMP1 newcomers from Weissach.

The travel itinerary for the second part of the World Championship, with Austin (Texas, USA), Fuji (Japan), Shanghai (China), Sakhir (Bahrain) and Sao Paulo (Brazil) as the destinations, adds up to around 40,000 kilometres – which is almost exactly equivalent to a trip around the globe. The team’s air freight for this enterprise is 35 tons. Nevertheless, only indispensible items are taken on board. The team’s hospitality, for example, isn’t one of the essentials. The works team eats in the paddock canteen.

M14 4969 finePorsche Team, LMP1, air cargo preparation, Weissach

Air cargo is complex. Like in the classic computer game Tetris, items have to be stacked without gaps, using the aircraft’s hold including any sloping sections. The area for the Porsche freight is limited to 12 units. Each of them measures 304 by 230 centimetres and, when fully loaded, should not be heavier than 3000 kilograms, otherwise the basic costs increase. Months ago it was calculated 12 units would be needed. The cargo list contains several thousand items. In order to ensure that everything fits into the limited space, the team always had the air freight requirements in mind when making decisions over what to purchase – whether for a tool cabinet, packaging for the drivers’ helmets, or an engine box. Furthermore, similar to moving house, the rule is: whatever is needed first at the destination, must be immediately available. Perfect organisation is essential to build up the garage on time, and once a three-ton container has been unloaded in a freight packed pit lane it sits there until it is empty.

The air freight goes on an Atlas Air 747 cargo plane, chartered by DHL and shared with other WEC teams. It took off on September 11 from the Frankfurt-Hahn airport in Germany to fly to Austin, Tokyo, Shanghai, Manama and Sao Paulo.

Each of the 12 units has a unique worldwide number plate and each component packed inside the containers has a QR code, so that by using a scanner everything can be located. This painstaking organisation doesn’t just achieve labour and cost efficiency. Customs offices, too, have a need for information. Whether the serial numbers of the 120 radios, the number of chassis components, packets of screws, or rolls of tape – Porsche puts a lot of effort in reliable documentation. Everything imported into the various countries has to be exported out again. The containers are x-rayed, and customs officers may, of course, want to unpack them. Time for this is factored into the schedules.

The two race cars don’t fit into containers. The Porsche 919 Hybrids travel securely strapped down onto extra car racks. All of their fluids have been drained, fragile body parts, such as the wing mirrors and front and rear wings, have been packed safely elsewhere. Fitting a set of used tyres is just right for travelling around the world. Between the races some components go back and forth. For example, the two-litre four-cylinder engines for rebuilding in Weissach.

Hazardous materials go separately. These include adhesives and resins, as well as spray cans and the lithium-ion batteries for the hybrid drive systems. These batteries even require permission from federal aviation administration offices in the various countries. The fact that Porsche possesses considerable expertise in hybrid matters helps the race team, but the procedures are time-consuming nonetheless. The hazardous materials also have to stay in a secure room for 48 hours before and after every flight without being moved. Fuel is shipped by Porsche’s partner Shell, and ExxonMobil brings all the oils and lubricants to the tracks. Michelin sends the tyres.

The team also ships some items by sea, which is considerably less expensive, but also much slower. Equipment shipped in August will only return in January. But then this doubles or triples what is needed. Because of the long distances there are three sets of sea freight on the high seas. The contents consist of relatively inexpensive but heavy equipment. Metal posts, for example. Instead of flying 20 of those heavy Tensator barriers around the world, it is cheaper to buy sixty of them and load them onto three vessels. It’s all about efficiency.

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Start of the fan-friendly FIAWEC World Endurance Championship coming soon to Silverstone

Le Mans is the most famous endurance race in the world, but it is only one of eight races that make up the FIA World Endurance Championship. Le Mans is during June, but the season opener is at Silverstone on 20th April. Whilst the famous French race lasts for 24 hours, the other races around the world from Shanghai to Sao Paulo last six hours.

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Along with F1, the FIA WEC is one of the pinnacles of motorsport, and the arena where new electric-hybrid technologies are developed. These innovations are already being seen in road cars, showing the relevance to the everyday driver of the endurance series. To further prove the point, Nissan will be entering their ZEOD, the first all-electric car in Le Mans this year.

The FIAWEC is a fan-friendly championship, with pit walks and meet-the-driver sessions at all the races of the season. Endurance racing has an illustrious history and the WEC continues to push the limits of automotive design.

If you want to experience an exciting motor-racing show with all the drama that can be packed into a six hour race then attend one of the WEC races this year. With Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Toyota and Aston Martin amongst the big names competing there will be plenty of excitement.

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24 Hours – A matter of seconds – Preview of new documentary about Le Mans

A new documentary has been released about the Audi and Michelin victory at Le Mans 2013. The race may last 24 hours, but it can be won or lost on the tyre choices and on the seconds spent in the pits. The documentary offers exclusive behind-the-scenes content, sharing the Le Mans experience from the inside of Audi’s pits.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljx5U76wSEE?feature=oembed]

Including insights from industry pros, from Michelin engineers to star drivers Benoît Tréluyer, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen: race preparation, vital decisions that happen in a split second…24 hours of gruelling competition at Le Mans.

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Endurance FIAWEC

Audi electric hybrid cars win Le Mans 2013 and Michelin Green X Challenge

The World’s Greatest Race has been won by Audi, but thoughts are with Simonsen’s family and team.

For the second year in succession, Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hours with a hybrid race car. Victory was clinched by an Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven for 24 hours non-stop by Loïc Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish (GB). However the 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours was overshadowed by a fatal accident that occurred in the GT class shortly after the race started. Unfortunately Allan Simonsen crashed his Aston Martin and was the first fatality at Le Mans in 15 years

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Photo credit: Audi

“Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy about another great Le Mans victory for Audi” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “This is the first fatal accident we’ve had to witness in 15 Le Mans years. I hope it’ll remain the last.”

Rain showers crossed the track again and again during the race. They resulted in numerous incidents and the race ran for more than five hours under ‘yellow’ while the track was cleared and repairs were performed.

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Photo credit: Audi

The three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, which are equipped with an electrically driven front axle, were the fastest vehicles in the field throughout the entire race – as well as the most efficient ones: Victory in the Michelin Green X Challenge, a competition of the cleanest, fastest and most efficient prototypes, went to Audi as well.

Driver Loïc Duval said it was “A really great moment in my career,” whilst Tom Kristensen said “I’m proud to drive for the world’s best team.’ He added ‘This Le Mans success I’m dedicating to Allan Simonsen.”

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Endurance FIAWEC

Did Capability Brown design the racetrack at Spa-Francorchamps?

Capability Brown’s work can be seen all over the grand estates of England and his influence as a garden designer has never been in doubt. Less well-acknowledged is his influence on race-track design. One would have thought that few were the patrons asking the 18th Century master gardener to squeeze a racetrack between the ornamental lake and the ha-ha. However, if ever the hand of Capability Brown can be seen it is in the racetrack at Spa-Francorchamps.

IMG 3114 flaneurThis is no Hermann Tilke designed safety-first circuit. It is cut through the Ardennes forest with a verve that echoes the undulating landscapes and unexpected vistas of the classic Brownian garden.

When Capability Brown is mentioned thoughts turn first to Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle and Milton Abbey. It is not even recorded in official biographies that the master ever visited this part of Belgium. He is quoted as refusing work in Ireland as he had not yet finished England! Yet here is a racetrack with all the characteristics of a Capability landscape. The eye of a painter would be delighted with the vistas that appear as one wanders around the track.

I was at Spa-Francorchamps for the FIAWEC World Endurance Championship and was immediately struck by the similarities between the recognised designs of Brown and the track that twisted through the Ardennes countryside. There were the watercourses and trees, the carefully placed hillock to provide a perfect view, the disappearing carriageway. If Capability was not involved then someone has been very free with his ideas of perfecting nature to make something more beautiful, giving nature a helping hand, a tweak and a leg up to achieve something more special.

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The official history of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit makes no mention of Capability Brown. It goes so far as to say that it was originally designed in 1920 as a 14km track using public roads. As Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown died in 1783 there is a large discrepancy here. Has he been deliberately erased from the record books? Is it a conspiracy? Are the Belgians unwilling to admit that this great circuit was laid out by Capability years before the official date? Or has Capability merely been an inspiration to the unnamed designer who originally laid out the circuit between the towns of Spa, Malmedy and Stavelot in the Belgian Ardennes? If this is the case then it would appear that the Alpine watercolours of Turner have also played a part in the design of the track.

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Where else do spectators for a major sporting event lounge languorously on rocky slopes, hidden among the trees? But Turner also is missing from the approved history of the circuit. According to this, Spa-Francorchamps staged its first race in 1922 and two years later hosted its first 24 hour endurance race. The diagram below shows the original layout of the track, which was a high speed circuit popular with drivers and spectators.

NewImageSafety issues were not at the forefront of the circuit’s original design. The track used public roads and there were the usual trees, telegraph poles, walls and houses next to the circuit. Unlike the run-off areas of modern tracks, Spa was unforgiving and it became notorious for bad accidents. All but La Source were high-speed corners, and combined with the changeable weather in the Ardennes Forest and the lack of run-off areas accidents were often fatal. After multiple fatalities during the 1973 and 1975 24 Hours races the circuit was going to have to be altered to remain relevant in the modern era.

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In 1979 the circuit was dramatically shortened to 7km.  The relationship between the old and new tracks can be seen above. Clearly the new layout has a lower potential for absurdly high speed, lacking as it does the straights either side of the Masta kink. But the new circuit is still fast and hilly, and still heads off into the Ardennes forest. The weather can still be entirely different on different parts of the track and the ability of the driver is still tested to the limits, especially through the famous Eau Rouge/ Radillon combination.

Spa-Francorchamps is a classic of world racing and whilst it remains uncertain whether Capability Brown was the original creator of the track there is enough evidence to suggest that his influence has been heavily felt by those who did craft this magnificent circuit. However…circumstantial evidence that Capability was involved with race tracks does exist elsewhere. Capability worked at Stowe in England. Can it only be a coincidence that there is a corner called Stowe at Silverstone? I think not.

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Endurance FIAWEC

The pit stop ballet – Krohn Racing style

One of the teams competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship is Krohn racing. You can always tell them at the race track by their love of green. Everything about them is green from the car to the drivers’ overalls. It’s an elegant Italian green derived from a shirt bought in Sienna by team owner Tracey Krohn. I was sitting in the main grandstand at Spa-Francorchamps watching the race when the Krohn Ferrari came into the pits right opposite me. I couldn’t have been better positioned to watch the action. A pit stop is always an exciting event, even more so in an endurance event where the drivers are changing over. Mechanics race around the car, all knowing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. So here’s a documentary of the procedure, like a high speed noiseless ballet in the midst of a high octane six hour race.

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The Krohn racing mechanics wait for the moment of action. The new driver stretches and gets ready for his high speed stint in the team’s green Ferrari F458.

IMG 3044 flaneurWith the car moments away all the mechanics line up. The lollypop man, the refuelling guy, the next driver and the mechanics with the new tyres.

Krohn 1 flaneurThe car arrives and the drivers change over. The refuelling rig is connected and the fuel tank refilled. Mechanics race in with the new tyres.

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A mechanic straps the new driver into the car.

Krohn 3 flaneurThen the car is raised off the ground and the wheels are changed.

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Finally the new driver sets off down the pit lane and returns to the fray.

I wish that I had had a stop watch timing the pit stop so that I could tell you that the whole thing only took x seconds. Unfortunately I was too busy taking photos. Suffice to say it was quicker than the service I get at my local garage.

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Endurance FIAWEC

Electric hybrid racing – The World Endurance Championship moves to Spa #FIAWEC

It took me over six hours to drive to Dover, so I arrived at Spa-Francorchamps for the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship feeling I had all the skills necessary to actually take part in the endurance race. Though the cars have to compete non-stop for six hours, each car is driven by three drivers. On that basis I was more than ready. If any of the drivers fell ill – a surfeit of moule-frites, perhaps – then I was ready to step in. I didn’t actually walk up to Audi or Toyota and offer my services, but if the start of the race approached and word went round that McNish was ill or Davidson had a dicky tummy then I would cough politely and show them my driving licence.
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Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN Nissan

The Spa-Francorchamps racing circuit is one of the greatest racing circuits on the racing circuit circuit. As Anthony Davidson pointed out, it is one of the original F1 circuits still being used today, along with Silverstone and Monza.The track used to be a lunatic 14km of fast corners and even faster straights but in 1979 it was shortened and made safer. That hasn’t made it an undemanding trip to the corner shop though, it is still a 2 minute/ 7km lap and the essence of its brilliance remains. ‘Spa is wonderful, the track is beautiful,’ Lotus driver Vitantonio Liuzzi told me and indeed it undulates through the Ardennes forest like a carriageway through an English country estate. I had been warned that the weather can be sunny at one end of the track and pouring with rain at the other – although in that respect it is no different to any British High Street. And this weekend I didn’t need the brolly that had seen such sterling service at Silverstone three weeks ago. The sun shone on the 35,000 fans that were packed all around the circuit.

IMG 2500 flaneurThe battle for supremacy in the top LMP1 class was again between Audi and Toyota, continuing from Silverstone where the first round of the World Endurance Championship took place on the 14th April. Back then Audi stormed away with both the win and second place, along with the superb Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy. Toyota had to settle for 3rd and 4th. But here at Spa Toyota were due to premiere their updated 2013 car.

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Toyota TS 030 Hybrid

 

So was it advantage Toyota? Possibly. Although Audi had brought a new long-tail car to Belgium. So it was probably deuce. But then, Audi were entering three cars in preparation for Le Mans. So maybe it was advantage Audi… Calling this one was impossible. It was going to be a race to savour.

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Map of Spa-Francorchamps by Will Pittenger

Spa is a great racetrack for watching the action. The paddock is located within La Source hairpin (1) and the huge roof terrace of the PIt Building gives great views of the Pit straight, as well as the acceleration towards Eau Rouge and Radillon. It is not until you see the track in real life that you appreciate the incline from Eau Rouge, which continues up until Les Combes. Patrick Pilet, factory driver for Porsche spoke of the compression that the drivers experience as they bottom out through Eau Rouge, before taking the blind corner heading into the Kemmel straight at two hundred and something kph. ‘It is one of the few racetracks where the driver can make a difference,’ he added, explaining why he liked it so much.
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Aston Martin Vantage. With most of the car missing…

Saturday was race day and had blue skies and sunshine, with veterans commenting it was the best weather they had ever seen at Spa. The race started at 14:30 and with Audi first, second and third on the grid you might have expected them to process to the first corner in formation. No chance! When the lights went green Loic Duval in the #2 Audi took the lead from the second row, whilst Andre Lotterer’s #1 Audi had dropped from pole to 5th by the end of the first lap. Not the start that Audi would have wanted, although they still retained first and second positions.

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Eau Rouge at Spa. Sometimes it’s hard to remember you’re at a race track.

I’d watched the start of the race from the main grandstand opposite the grid, a fantastic view of the pre-race band and the cars rushing into La Source to head right round the sharpest corner of the track. There was also a big screen showing action from the rest of the track. However at Spa spectators can walk all the way from Eau Rouge along the Kemmel straight to Les Combes. After an hour’s racing the safety car was deployed after Antonio Pizzonia’s Delta ADR spun into the wall. The frenetic pace slowed for a while and I took the opportunity to walk around the track.  With the safety car coming in I enjoyed the almost constant overtaking that comes from having different classes of cars competing in the same race. Endurance drivers have to be very aware of the other traffic on the track, constantly allowing faster cars through whilst battling with those in their own class. The World Endurance championship is a complicated beast, with different classes of cars and drivers all competing on track at the same time.

It was a hot day and just when I thought I could walk no further and was contemplating how the drivers were coping inside the cockpits, I stumbled across a very welcome sight…

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A bar overlooking the race track near Radillon

Refreshed by a glass of the local Jupiler beer, I joined the fans watching from the grassy banks above the Kemmel straight. The views of the action were stunning, looking down onto the track from slightly above. The #1 Audi which had regained the lead had suffered a puncture and had to pit, handing the lead to the Toyota. In the other classes Rebellion led the privateers, Pecom led LMP2 whilst the Ferraris of AF Corse and 8-Star motorsports led the LMGTE PRO and LMGTE AM classes.
The concentration required of the drivers in a six hour race is immense, but the technology also has to be reliable. Unfortunately the 2013-spec Toyota entry had to retire with a hybrid issue. Before then it had led the race and showed sufficient pace to suggest that if the problem can be overcome they will be a force in the future. The lead was returned to Audi, and they were to keep it until the chequered flag with the #1 car of reigning champions Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler taking the win. The statistics will show that they also started on pole, but they didn’t have it as easy as that suggests. Silverstone’s winners McNish/Duval/Kristensen were second. Before the race the 3rd Audi car had deliberately been set up with Le Mans spec, as a test for the next race in the WEC series. With the car not being optimised for Spa Di Grassi/Gene/Jarvis were pleased to finish third. The other classes were won by Pecom racing, AF Corse and 8 Star Motorsports.
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Audi drivers celebrate their 1-2-3 at Spa-Francorchamps

Now the World Endurance Championship moves to Le Mans on 22-23rd June. This is the big one, a race lasting an almost unbelievable 24 hours. I’d say it was impossible, except that – excluding wartime – it’s been completed every year since 1923. The distances the cars cover in the 24 hours grows annually, and the manufacturers use it as a testing bed for new technology that will eventually be seen on road cars of the future. Spa brought fantastic racing, but Le Mans is a legend in its own right. And all positions get double points. See you there!

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The Six Hours of Silverstone – electric hybrids at the British Le Mans #FIAWEC

FIA World Endurance Championship 2013 First round: Silverstone, UK, Sunday 14th April 

When most people think of Endurance racing they think of Le Mans, the race that has been run on the Circuit de la Sarthe in Northern France since 1923. However there is now a complete endurance championship that takes place every year of which Le Mans is only one race. Completing the championship are seven other races around the world at famous tracks like Silverstone and Sao Paolo.

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Whilst only Le Mans lasts for 24 hours, the other races last for a still-incredible six hours of high speed racing. All cars are driven by more than one driver over the course of the race, driver changes being an exciting part of the pit-stops. Drivers become real team-mates, working for each other, with the added pressure of knowing that their performance directly impinges on the success of their fellows.

The opening round of this year’s championship was held at Silverstone on 12-14th April. It was a real festival of motor sport, with the European F3 series and a three-hour European Le Mans race helping to build excitement for the main event. Endurance racing is where the newest technologies in electric hybrid power are being pioneered with cars from Audi and Toyota harvesting energy under braking. Toyota use a super capacitor system which can charge the equivalent of a full 3 hour Prius charge in just 11 minutes! This technology will be refined and make its way into the road cars of the future. Audi use an electric flywheel accumulator and the e-tron technology being refined in the WEC race series is already being tested with a view to use in high-volume production.

A marching band on the grid struck up the National Anthem as the drivers sat in their cars waiting for the rolling start. An aeroplane flew overhead trailing a banner celebrating the centenary of Aston Martin, who had four cars in the race. Endurance races begin with a rolling start, so at 11:55:55 precisely the cars started around the track on their formation lap. When they returned to the pit straight the timing was such that as the lead car crossed the line the time ticked over to 12:00 and the race was on!

Race cars

© ALEXANDRE GUILLAUMOT – DPPI MEDIA

Owing to a bad qualifying session the Strakka racing LMP1 was starting out of position on the fifteenth row on the grid. Jonny Kane gave a demonstration of the abilities of the LMP1 class as he had overtaken two GTE cars before he had even reached the start-finish line!

The two Toyotas had started in the first two positions but Allan McNish in the #2 Audi quickly made his way past the #7 Toyota. He bore down on Alex Wurz’s Toyota and was past before the end of the first ten laps! This was not the contest that had been expected between the two big manufacturers, but is explained by the fact that Toyota were running their 2012 spec car. When asked later in the race ‘What can you do about the Audis?’ Toyota driver Anthony Davidson honestly replied ‘Finish behind them.’ Toyota will be bringing one new car to Spa and a truer picture of the LMP1 class will appear then.

I’d watched the start of the race from above the grid, inside in the warm. But Silverstone is a large track of exciting corners and I felt the urge to get out in the action and experience these super cars at close hand. I walked up to Club corner and then sat in the Stowe Lakeside grandstand, watching the cars brake hard for the Vale sharp left-hander after accelerating down from Stowe, sometime three abreast. Vale

An IMSA Performance Matmut LMGTE AM Porsche rounds Vale ©Flaneur

The speeds that these cars travel is astonishing, especially to someone who has spent much of his life driving a VW Golf. But the prototype classes even make the Porsches, Ferraris and Astons look a tad staid. Even more impressive than the straight line speeds are the speeds that all the cars can take around corners. The entrance to the pit lane is at Vale – if the drivers continue straight on instead of turning they enter it, and many was the time I assumed a car was entering the pits, only for the driver to suddenly brake and throw the wheel to port. The cars zipped left as though attached to the asphalt, a great compliment to the engineers who model the downforce and have created a grid of automotive masterpieces.

By the second hour of the race the Audis had consolidated their lead in the LMP1 class with the #2 car 15 seconds ahead of the sister car. The Strakka had crashed out, leaving the Rebellion Racing pair to fight it out for 5th and 6th behind the two Toyotas. Wanting to see as much of the action as possible I wandered along the inside of the track towards Stowe, where the ground rises and creates a superb viewing area, well peopled by photographers with huge lenses. If you like cameras then Silverstone on race day is probably the best place in England to spot some rare examples.  Great views of the action along the Hangar straight and around Stowe can be had from the roof of the centre where the medical cars wait in case they are needed. By now the sun was out, although it was windy. But this is England, and any time when it is not actually raining counts as good weather.

In both of the the GTE classes Aston Martin were on schedule to celebrate their anniversary with home class wins, with Bruno Senna lapping the PRO car consistently even though the #97 car was reported to be suffering from traction control issues. In the AM class the all-Danish team were keeping the British marque in top place.

With Radio Le Mans at 87.7 FM keeping me informed of what was going on in the race I continued to walk around the circuit. I soaked in the atmosphere and the noise, several times thinking a very loud car was coming up the internal road I was walking on. It wasn’t. I  watched some of the action on the Hangar Straight from a great little grandstand just past the bridge. A small boy in a perfect replica McLaren racing suit was enjoying the action as the cars roared nose to tail towards the bridge. The trust that each driver places in the hands of his competitors is huge, and with the different classes all competing at once there is a lot of overtaking. Drivers in all classes except LMP1 have to spend a lot of time looking in the mirrors and the marshals are often waving blue flags to show drivers when a higher class car is approaching them.

Walking past the Heliport with its welcoming Danger of death signs I listened to the race on the radio. It said that one of the Toyotas was suffering from porpoising. I thought I must have misheard, but it turns out that porpoising is a legitimate condition that cars can suffer, when the front end bounces up and down. I think though that I definitely misheard when the commentator claimed that one of the new drivers was getting into his car with ‘a small book and a cushion for his back.‘ I can imagine the cushion, but I can’t see a team manager being happy with a driver taking a book into the cockpit. There’s very little time on a lap of Silverstone to have a quick read.

Audi pits

A great shot of an Audi pit stop © ALEXANDRE GUILLAUMOT – DPPI MEDIA

To watch the last hour I returned to the International Pit Straight. The race at the front had come alive since Allan McNish had spun avoiding a slower car, and it had become a high speed game of poker with team managers making judgement calls on pit stops, new tyres and how much to fuel the cars for the final stint. In the end the spin that McNish had suffered played into his hands by forcing him to come in for new tyres. He wouldn’t have chosen to pit and it gave him a mountain of seconds (or maybe a hillock – it was 30) to climb before the end of the race, but once he caught the sister #1 Audi his newer rubber let him get past easily. Or as easily as anything is at 200kph. Which probably isn’t much. It turned out the #1 car had suffered a hybrid driveshaft fault and was unable to make proper use of its electrical power.

When the six hour race time was almost up I was carefully positioned by the finish line to get a snap of the winning Audi. There was no chequered flag waiting though, which should have told me something. Motor races always end with a chequered flag, which I have read descends from an old chequered tablecloth waved at the end of 19th century American horse races. True or not I waited for the flag to appear. It didn’t and when the commentator said that the race was over and Allan McNish and Audi had won I realised that although I was looking at a perfectly good white line across the track, right by the start, it wasn’t the white line… So yes, after six hours I missed the finish. Oh well, there’s always next time.

Trophy

FIAWEC TT trophy © ALEXANDRE GUILLAUMOT – DPPI MEDIA

Endurance racing is the peak of motorsport, testing drivers, technology and equipment to the limit. This race had been chosen as the 2013 Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy and McNish, Duval and Kristensen’s names will now be added to this historic trophy. You can find out more about the TT trophy here.

The next race in the enthralling FIA World Endurance Championship is at Spa-Francorchamps on 4th May 2013. The teams will move on knowing that Toyota will have made a big step forward just by arriving with this season’s model. It is a legendary circuit, and being only two hours from Toyota’s base in Cologne they will be hoping to put on a good show. The other classes will be pushing for improvements and with Rebellion, Delta-ADR and Aston taking all the remaining class wins there will be lots of teams out for revenge in Belgium.