2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season preview
The 2017 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sixth edition of the revived championship, will have the same format as in the year before, with nine races on the same race tracks, but with many significant changes according to teams, drivers, rules and cars.
Nine-round championship with Le Mans 24h as a highlight
The season will traditionally kick off at Silverstone, for the fifth year in a row, with the 6-hour race on Sunday, April 16. The complete calendar is the same as in 2016, with four rounds in Europe and five in the rest of the world.
The iconic Spa-Francorchamps will host the second 6-hour race in May and then the 85th edition of 24 hours of Le Mans will follow in June. Nürburgring’s race in July would be the last in Europe, after that North America follows (Mexico and Texas) and three rounds in Asia (Fuji, Shanghai, Bahrain).
2017 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar
|1||April 16||6 hours of Silverstone||Silverstone, UK|
|2||May 6||6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps||Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium|
|3||June 17-18||24 hours of Le Mans||Circuit de la Sarthe, France|
|4||July 16||6 hours of Nürburgring||Nürburgring, Germany|
|5||September 3||6 hours of Mexico||Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico|
|6||September 16||6 hours of COTA||Circuit of the Americas, USA|
|7||October 15||6 hours of Fuji||Fuji Speedway, Japan|
|8||November 5||6 hours of Shanghai||Shanghai International Circuit, China|
|9||November 18||6 hours of Bahrain||Bahrai International Circuit, Bahrain|
Twenty-eight crews as full-time entries
Twenty-eights crews/cars are on the provisional full-time entry list for the 2017 FIA WEC season: five in the LMP1 class, ten in the LMP2 class and thirteen GTE cars (eight Pro + five Am).
After Audi decided to withdraw from the championship, we have the shortest ever LMP1 grid since the World Endurance Championship was revived in 2012. Rebellion Racing also left LMP1 class, switching to LMP2 class with two Oreca 07s, so the LMP1 grid dropped from last year’s nine cars to five cars.
Neel Jani is the only defending champion in the #1 Porsche
Only Neel Jani will defend the 2016 FIA WEC championship title in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid. His team-mates Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb have been dropped out from Porsche WEC prototype program, so Jani will share the #1 car with Nick Tandy and ex-Audi driver Andre Lotterer. Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber will share the #2 Porsche.
Lopez as a rookie in the LMP1 car
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s TS 050 Hybrid remains the only factory-backed rival to Porsche. The biggest novelty in the Japanese/German team is WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez in the #7 car, together with Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. The crew in the #8 Toyota remains the same: Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima. Toyota will field the third car at Le Mans.
The fifth car in the LMP2 class is a brand new ENSO CLM P1/01 of ByKolles Racing Team. Oliver Webb and Robert Kubica were announced as drivers but former F1 driver withdrew before the opening round, so James Rossiter and Dominik Kraihamer took other two places in the #4 car.
Ten Oreca prototypes on the LMP2 grid
In the LMP2 class, the biggest change is the rule that all participants could use only one engine, the Gibson Technology’s 4.2-litre V8 powerplant. Four chassis manufacturers had been chosen to be suppliers of close-cockpit LMP2 cars: Dallara, Onroak (Ligier), Oreca and Riley/Multimatic.
There is only one manufacturer at the ten-car full-time entry list, as all FIA WEC teams purchased Oreca 07 cars. Defending champions from Signatech Racing rebranded their cars to Alpine A470. The situation is slightly different at the 24h Le Mans entry list, where also other three manufacturers would be represented.
Same four manufacturers in the GTE field
In the GTE field, we will watch the same cars as before. AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GTE), Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK (Ford GT), Porsche GT Team (Porsche 911 RSR) and Aston Martin Racing (AM Vantage GTE) will have two cars each in the GTE Pro class. Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen will defend their title in the #95 Aston Martin. The last year’s GTE Am champions Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard joined TDS Racing in the LMP2 class, so they will not defend their titles.
2017 FIA WEC provisional entry list
|LMP1||1||Porsche LMP Team||Porsche 919 Hybrid||Neel Jani/Nick Tandy/Andre Lotterer|
|2||Porsche LMP Team||Porsche 919 Hybrid||Timo Bernhard/Brandon Hartley/Earl Bamber|
|4||ByKolles Racing Team||ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan||Oliver Webb/James Rossiter/Dominik Kraihamer|
|7||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota TS050 - Hybrid||Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez|
|8||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota TS050 - Hybrid||Anthony Davidson/Sebastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima|
|LMP2||13||Vaillante Rebellion||Oreca 07 - Gibson||Nelson Piquet Jr/Mathias Beche/David Heinemeier Hansson|
|24||CEFC Manor TRS Racingt||Oreca 07 - Gibson||Tor Graves/Jonathan Hirschi/Jean-Eric Vergne|
|25||CEFC Manor TRS Racingt||Oreca 07 - Gibson||Roberto Gonzalez/Simon Trummer/Vitaly Petrov|
|26||G-Drive Racing||Oreca 07-Gibson||Roman Rusinov/Pierre Thiriet/Alex Lynn|
|28||TDS Racing||Oreca 07-Gibson||Emmanuel Collard/Francois Perrodo/Matthieu Vaxiviere|
|31||Vaillante Rebellion||Oreca 07-Gibson||Nicolas Prost/Bruno Senna/Julien Canal|
|35||Signatech Alpine Matmut||Alpine A470-Gibson||Nelson Panciatici/Pierre Ragues/Andre Negrao|
|36||Signatech Alpine Matmut||Alpine A470-Gibson||Nicolas Lapierre/Gustavo Menezes/Matthew Rao/Romain Dumas|
|37||Jackie Chan DC Racing||Oreca 07-Gibson||David Cheng/Tristan Gommendy/Alex Brundle|
|38||Jackie Chan DC Racing||Oreca 07-Gibson||Ho-Pin Tung/Thomas Laurent/Oliver Jarvis|
|LMGTE Pro||51||AF Corse||Ferrari 488 GTE||James Calado/Alessandro Pier Guidi/Lucas di Grassi|
|66||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK||Ford GT||Stefan Mucke/Olivier Pla/Billy Johnson|
|67||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK||Ford GT||Andy Priaulx/Harry Tincknell/Pipo Derani|
|71||AF Corse||Ferrari 488 GTE||Davide Rigon/Sam Bird/Miguel Molina|
|91||Porsche GT Team||Porsche 911 RSR||Richard Lietz/Frederic Makowiecki/Patrick Pilet|
|92||Porsche GT Team||Porsche 911 RSR||Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre/Dirk Werner|
|95||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin Vantage GTE||Nicki Thiim/Marco Sorensen/Richie Stanaway|
|97||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin Vantage GTE||Darren Turner/Jonny Adam/Daniel Serra|
|LMGTE Am||54||Spirit of Race||Ferrari 488 GTE||Thomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci/TBA|
|61||Clearwater Racing||Ferrari 488 GTE||Matt Griffin/Keita Sawa/Weng Sun Mok|
|77||Dempsey - Proton Racing||Porsche 911 RSR||Christian Ried/Marvin Dienst/Matteo Cairoli|
|86||Gulf Racing||Porsche 911 RSR||Mike Wainwright/Ben Barker/Nick Foster|
|98||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin Vantage GTE||Paul Dalla Lana/Mathias Lauda/Pedro Lamy|