Impressions from the opening rounds of the FIA 2017 WEC & ELMS season

April 19, 2017

Impressions from the opening rounds of the FIA 2017 WEC & ELMS season

StickeredUp4LeMans' man on the inside gives his thoughts from the opening rounds of FIA WEC & ELMS at Silverstone 

Having spent 6 days last week watching and then officiating at both rounds of the championships at Silverstone, I am very pleased to report that despite the doom and gloom comments made at the end of last season regarding departures and changes, both championships opened their seasons with good, strong races.

No-one likes to see departures, and Audi was a very large one, having spent 18 years in the premier category. But Sunday’s race proved that you only need 2 cars to form a race, although 3 can be better.

Their different agendas regarding ‘practising’ for Le Mans should have meant the result would be a walkover for the Toyota team, but a winning gap of 6 seconds after 6 hours of racing showed Toyota still have some issues to resolve before they get their flag to flag trouble free run. Still, a win is always good for confidence and the championship, and those of you who are willing Toyota to achieve the goal they so nearly got last year can be hopeful that their moment is coming.

LMP2 showed well as a spectacle, the teams joined this year by the Rebellion team who have stepped down from the premier class. But it was another king of the category that took the spoils. The licence and money for the Jackie Chan DC Racing cars may be Chinese, but the engineering behind it is Britain’s Jota Sport, and they have continued their winning tradition, showing that it wasn’t just their long serving “mighty 38” car that they can prepare well.

The GTs provided their own show, admirably backing up the prototypes with some very close hand-to-hand dicing, both on track and in the pits. I happened to watch much of the race from inside the AF Corse garages, and both Brits James Calado (car #51) and Sam Bird (car #71) remarked how tough it was out on track during their first stints. The fact that Ford, Ferrari and Porsche took the podium places, all having completed the same number of laps, show how closely matched they were, only Aston Martin missing from the party. Hopefully, the new BoP (balance of performance) equation will further close up the differences for Spa and Le Mans.

And, if all that within the WEC didn’t satisfy our racing juices, we were treated to a great appetiser from the competitors in the 4 hour European Le Mans Series. My impression is that their presentation and performance is almost the equal to the WEC, giving us, the fans and spectators, a second championship to follow closely, as they travel the circuits of Europe.

Someone on social media suggested after the weekend that the ELMS and WEC should be combined into one race. My answer to this would be to leave it alone, the product as it stands is not broken, and surely it’s better to have two races to watch, rather than having all the eggs in one basket. An over crowded track, ELMS teams knowing they don’t have the budget to compete with the WEC guys so would walk away – all factors that would detriment the sport.

And for those who say it needs better promotion to draw bigger crowds – be careful what you wish for, as these larger crowds could mean availability to get close to teams and drivers disappearing, and the loss of the product we currently have and crave as sportscar fans.

So the season is now up and running, the next round is in Spa in a couple of weeks, and I am very fortunate to have been allowed to officiate there for the first time. Based on what I saw and heard at Silverstone, I’m in for a good time!

 

- Great work Steve, thank you! We were there for the WEC round on Sunday and thought it was spectacular! A fantastic start to the season and we're looking forward to witnessing the next thrilling installment at Spa! See you there! 



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