July - September
Driving into the night in Austin with the
Porsche 919 Hybrid
FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), round 4, Austin (Texas, USA), LMP1 preview
. The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, will be the venue for the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on 20th September. The six-hour race will start at 5pm with the sun setting at 7.43pm. This schedule makes it the maiden night race for COTA, while the six
With its hybrid powered Le Mans Prototype (LMP1), the
At the third and most famous WEC race, the Le Mans 24-Hours, the team put in a strong performance, but only car number 14 finished the race – in 11th place overall after time consuming gearbox repairs in the final hours. For Bernhard/Hartley/Webber it was even harder: car number 20 had been leading for 37 laps and was well on track for a second place finish when Mark Webber had to retire the car two hours before the end, because of an engine failure.
Since that day, 15th of June, the
Quotes before the race:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “We are highly motivated going into Austin and want to benefit from everything we have learnt so far. It is almost like the kick off of a second season, but under new conditions. Testing in summer went extremely well – very analytic, systematic and in a great atmosphere. For a long time the Le Mans preparations dominated everything. Then we had a strong performance there and emerged together from what was the harsh end of it. It was very emotional and very good for team building. In Weissach we have been targeting reliability issues and ticked off a long job list for the coming five races. The
Drivers car no. 14:
Romain Dumas – 36, France.
“So far I only know COTA from our simulator and I always enjoy discovering new circuits. When I was racing the
Neel Jani – 30, Switzerland.
“I haven’t been to Austin yet, but did some simulator training. The first part of the lap is really fast, so you’ll need a lot of downforce there, which our new aero package should provide. I think the kerbs are less brutal than in Le Mans. We don’t have much experience in the heat yet and will have to watch tyre wear and system temperatures very carefully, especially for the first two hours. Then we will be driving in the night for the longer part of the race. I always liked racing in the States and had a great time in ChampCar in 2007. In any case I can’t wait to race the 919 again. When the power of the electric machine picks up on the front axle, the car turns into an extremely powerful four-wheel beast – I feel like a jet pilot. This is future technology to maximise the pure fun of sports cars.”
Marc Lieb – 34, Germany.
“Last year when I raced the 911 RSR in Austin I found the circuit very interesting and technically demanding. I’m very much looking forward to taking the 919 Hybrid out on the track there. Especially in the fast corners, the downforce provided by the LMP1 car will make it a new driving experience. Having said that, for the long back straight you would rather want the car’s low drag Le Mans specification back. Sector three is another entirely different thing. There isn’t necessarily a harmonic flow between these corners, as you can actually choose between driving lines. But the lap time will tell you immediately what was the better and what was the worse solution. In 2013 the heat was extreme. Now the race starts later but, because of the high humidity, it doesn’t get cooler quickly in the night.”
Drivers car no. 20:
Timo Bernhard – 33, Germany.
“Well, I’m the only driver of car number 20 who hasn’t raced in Austin yet. But I know the track from the simulator in Weissach and, of course, I spoke with Mark and Brendon. It is a varied and demanding circuit. I can’t wait to take the car with a decent downforce level through the fast corners. Driving at night puts extra excitement into the race. I love racing in the dark and I hope to get the opportunity to do so again in Austin. The tricky time is before sunset when the sun is really low. You have got to be extra careful in the twilight before darkness, and your windscreen should be clean. Since Le Mans we are even more of a team than before, we are very close now – and highly motivated.”
Brendon Hartley – 24, New Zealand.
“I love this circuit. Last year I drove there in a Daytona prototype. In terms of the new style circuits with a lot of huge run off areas, COTA is the best I have ever driven on. It throws up a lot of challenges – quick flowing corners, very technical tight and twisty corners and long straights for passing. It is a good layout. Turn one stands out I would say as it is the first impression you get and is quite unique. I also like Austin as a city with all its live music, and I hope I get to see a bit more of it this year.”
Mark Webber – 38, Australia.
“It is good to go back racing again, as it was quite a bit of a break. I know Austin from Formula One and I like it – COTA is an interesting track with good facilities and Austin is a lively city. The fans have been great there. It will be our first real sprint race in terms of endurance racing dimensions, because earlier in the season we always had Le Mans in mind. But now we are focusing on doing a good job for the last five races. Driving into the night will be interesting as well. COTA has everything in the lap. It has quite high top speed, the straights are quite long, it has a lot of elevation changes and a lot of quick and very slow corners too. It will also be very hot and, therefore, challenging for the engines, the cars and the drivers. That’s a new component for us as well, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Facts and Figures:
• The length of the Circuit of the Americas is 5.513 kilometres. One lap features nine right-handers and 11 left-handers. The circuit, designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, has 40 metres difference in altitude and is run anti-clockwise. The longest straight is 1.2 kilometres.
• The ambient temperatures are expected to be around 30 degrees Celsius.
• In 2013, the race winner completed 187 laps (1,030.93 kilometres) in six hours. Over this distance each of the two
• In normal racing mode (without any safety car periods), the
• Two fuel tank fills (62 laps) with one set of the Michelin race tyres is the
• The population of the fast growing city of Austin is around 800,000 people. The town was founded in 1835 and later named after colonist Stephen F. Austin.
• Nearly 50,000 students enjoy the city life. Austin is also home for great rock bands, a popular headquarters for computer companies and the sets of famous movies have been there. Remarkably, Austin is also home for a population of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats.
• Twenty nine cars in total are on the entry list for the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Nine of them compete in the LMP1 category alongside the
• During the short qualifying – 25 minutes shared by LMP1 and LMP2 cars – two drivers per car must drive. The official qualifying time is the average of the two fastest laps of both drivers (i.e. the average time of four laps).
• In the WEC standings after three out of eight races, the
• With these two LMP1 cars, the
Please note: Photo and video material from the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC is available for accredited journalists from the