Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Start to the 2013 Sportscar season

The Motorsport Calendar team made the trip to Silverstone over the weekend, to see the ELMS and 1st round of the 2013 WEC Championship.  In addition to this, there were two races for the 2013 Euro F3 Championship.

Friday, mainly for Testing and Qualifying (Euro F3 only), was a little wet and windy, as Silverstone always can be!!  The newer International Pits were used by the WEC cars, with the ELMS and F3 teams based in the National Pits.  However it should be noted that the Start - Finish line for all of the races was in fact on the International Pits straight.  There was a lot of action on the track and so it was quite an interesting day, all cars took the track apart from the (only) new Aston Martin, number 97, due to some sensor settings indicating an engine issue, which meant that it had to be changed.  The LMP1 cars looked imperious on track, quick and purposeful.  Of note, the new Porsche cars looked good, but were actually a little slow overall.  The Astons looked quick, mighty quick.  We also noted that the Rebellion cars looked and sounded awesome, with the G Drive cars also looking like they were going quicker than they should have been.  The WEC cars were the last session on the track and after a short downpour all of the cars returned to the Pits.  We took the tactical decision to go back home then, as it was felt that with about 20 minutes left, it was unlikely that too many cars were going to return to the action and even then, wouldn't improve.

The whole circuit was busy, with a single decker bus running from the rear of the International Pits up to the National Pits Scrutineering area, just inside Copse.  This was handy, as access to the rear of the International Pits is a bit limited and quite a trek.  Why didn't they build a pedestrian tunnel or bridge from the outside to the inside of the track, when constructing the International Pits complex?  Surely a big oversight.  To the rear of the Pits, there was of course the Paddock area, which was open to all and a FanZone, which whilst a little underwhelming was a welcome area for those with young children.

Saturday, the WEC cars took to the track first and the Motorsport Calendar team were able to get some good photos for their Le Mans App, which is in the process of being updated.  The cars all used the circuit to good effect, whilst it was dry and pumped in a good number of dry laps.  The F3 races were interesting to see, with some good battles and a little sprinkling of rain to spice things up!  Josh Hill had a disappointing race, posting a DNF.  The 3hr ELMS race was an entertaining one, again the elements helped in making things a little more interesting.  Brendan Hartley drove an excellent first stint, but then wasted all that good work and effort by visiting the kitty litter.  There were a number of changes at the front of the race while drivers attempted to gain an advantage over their rivals, but in the end those that exercised a little caution in the conditions managed to prosper.  Whilst the rain came and went and came back again (and again!) the amount of rain wasn't particularly of note, but the track surface just never fully dried out.  A Safety Car session then meant that the racecars weren't clearing the track of water and so it just kept on being wet and slippery.  The race was eventually allowed to run, under the Safety Car to 75% and then halted by the Race Director.

Sunday, the WEC 6hrs race was an entertaining one, especially in the final few laps.  The Number 2 Audi being driven by Alan McNish overhauled the Number 1 car and won.  Admittedly whilst it looked very impressive, the Number 1 car had, had a front drive issue, which meant that the supplemental Hybrid Power didn't work.  Toyota completed the podium.  The Astons took a clean sweep of the GT classes, winning both Pro and Am classes.  In LMP2 the G Drive car of Tor Graves, Pizzonia and Walker took the top step of the podium.

Alledgedly the Toyota cars (2012) made the wrong Tyre selection, which hampered their race pace early on.  The Audis were incorrectly set up, so used a lot more fuel than they should have and were slowed down.  The 2013 Toyotas will be much more tightly focussed in their design, as the 2012 cars were designed to accept Hybrid power being delivered to the front or rear wheels.  The 2013 car only puts the extra power generated by the hybrid system to the rear wheels.

As ever the Radio Le Mans team gave excellent coverage and banter, keeping the spectator updated and informed of what was occurring and why.  They were joined by some guest commentators who took over the reins during the F3, single seater, races.

Spa next and of course the Le Mans 24hrs to look forward to!  The Motorsport Calendar team will be attending the race at La Sarthe.