Last 18 hours of World Endurance Championship bring challenges to Dunlop teams
After 54 hours of FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) racing, the final 18 hours of the current season will be contested in the Far and Middle East before racing pauses for 2017. Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain host the final three six-hour events on the calendar through October and November.
In LMP2, the teams will have the medium and medium-plus options for the remaining three rounds. Although the class is open in terms of tyre competition, all teams have chosen to compete on Dunlop tyres ensuring another title. The question is who will be crowned…. Three teams are currently ahead of the rest, #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing, #31 Vaillante Rebellion and #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut, but a further four still have a mathematical chance of winning the championship.
After taking wins at Le Mans and in Mexico, the Aston Martin GTE Pro squads will be looking to add to the win record. The sister Aston Martin Vantage currently tops the GTE Am class standings with the fellow Dunlop-shod Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 just four points behind in second. Their main rival is only a further two points away so Fuji will be a critical race in the title battle. Tyre choice in the GTE class will vary across the three available compounds depending on manufacturer and track. This is the first year with the GTE Pro class tyre restrictions in place which necessitates double stinting, and combined with the extreme conditions of the final three tracks, will make set-ups particularly critical.
6 Hours of Fuji (LMP2: medium & medium-plus options)
- Fuji International Speedway track at Oyama, north of Tokyo
- Big, long straight, abrasive surface, tight and twisty sections.
- Traction key making set-up crucial here
- Unpredictable and varied weather conditions (hot/cold – wet/dry)
2015 saw G-Drive Racing win using just two sets of tyres, starting the wet race on intermediates and changing to slicks after 622 kilometres.
6 Hours of Shanghai (LMP2: medium & medium-plus options)
- Shanghai International Circuit, near the east coast of China
- Low grip track with an aggressive surface
- Dunlop tyres designed to withstand stresses from the two long radius corners
- Good car balance is important at this track
The intermediate tyre came into play again in 2015 in China. In 2016 the title was decided in Signatech Alpine’s favour.
6 Hours of Bahrain (LMP2: medium & medium-plus options)
- Bahrain International Circuit
- Very abrasive given its location on desert sands
- Temperatures expected to be high
- Longitudinal loading makes Bahrain unusual putting more stress through the tyres under braking and traction
Aston Martin’s #95 took its fifth win of the year to claim the GTE Pro title last year in the Bahrain race. This will be the first return visit to Bahrain on Dunlop tyres since the first test last November for the Dempsey-Proton Porsche.
The 6 Hours of Fuji round of the FIA World Endurance Championship starts at 11.00 local time on Sunday 15th October.
The 6 Hours of Shanghai round of the FIA World Endurance Championship starts at 11.00 local time on Sunday 5th November.
The 6 Hours of Bahrain round of the FIA World Endurance Championship starts at 15.00 local time on Saturday 18th November.
Entry lists will be available at fiawec.com when published.
James BaileyEMEAUnited Kingdomjames@clivereeves.com44 790 4114 414