2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season preview

  • 2017 FIA WEC, Prologue Monza
  • 2017 FIA WEC cars
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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

RoundDateRace nameCircuit
1April 166 hours of SilverstoneSilverstone, UK
2May 66 hours of Spa-FrancorchampsSpa-Francorchamps, Belgium
3June 17-1824 hours of Le MansCircuit de la Sarthe, France
4July 166 hours of NürburgringNürburgring, Germany
5September 36 hours of MexicoAutodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico
6September 166 hours of COTACircuit of the Americas, USA
7October 156 hours of FujiFuji Speedway, Japan
8November 56 hours of ShanghaiShanghai International Circuit, China
9November 186 hours of BahrainBahrai 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.

2017 FIA WEC, Six teams with ten Oreca 07 cars will fight for the LMP2 title

Six teams with ten Oreca 07 cars will fight for the LMP2 title

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

LMP11Porsche LMP TeamPorsche 919 HybridNeel Jani/Nick Tandy/Andre Lotterer
2Porsche LMP TeamPorsche 919 HybridTimo Bernhard/Brandon Hartley/Earl Bamber
4ByKolles Racing TeamENSO CLM P1/01-NissanOliver Webb/James Rossiter/Dominik Kraihamer
7Toyota Gazoo RacingToyota TS050 - HybridMike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez
8Toyota Gazoo RacingToyota TS050 - HybridAnthony Davidson/Sebastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima
LMP213Vaillante RebellionOreca 07 - GibsonNelson Piquet Jr/Mathias Beche/David Heinemeier Hansson
24CEFC Manor TRS RacingtOreca 07 - GibsonTor Graves/Jonathan Hirschi/Jean-Eric Vergne
25CEFC Manor TRS RacingtOreca 07 - GibsonRoberto Gonzalez/Simon Trummer/Vitaly Petrov
26G-Drive RacingOreca 07-GibsonRoman Rusinov/Pierre Thiriet/Alex Lynn
28TDS RacingOreca 07-GibsonEmmanuel Collard/Francois Perrodo/Matthieu Vaxiviere
31Vaillante RebellionOreca 07-GibsonNicolas Prost/Bruno Senna/Julien Canal
35Signatech Alpine MatmutAlpine A470-GibsonNelson Panciatici/Pierre Ragues/Andre Negrao
36Signatech Alpine MatmutAlpine A470-GibsonNicolas Lapierre/Gustavo Menezes/Matthew Rao/Romain Dumas
37Jackie Chan DC RacingOreca 07-GibsonDavid Cheng/Tristan Gommendy/Alex Brundle
38Jackie Chan DC RacingOreca 07-GibsonHo-Pin Tung/Thomas Laurent/Oliver Jarvis
LMGTE Pro51AF CorseFerrari 488 GTEJames Calado/Alessandro Pier Guidi/Lucas di Grassi
66Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UKFord GTStefan Mucke/Olivier Pla/Billy Johnson
67Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UKFord GTAndy Priaulx/Harry Tincknell/Pipo Derani
71AF CorseFerrari 488 GTEDavide Rigon/Sam Bird/Miguel Molina
91Porsche GT TeamPorsche 911 RSRRichard Lietz/Frederic Makowiecki/Patrick Pilet
92Porsche GT TeamPorsche 911 RSRMichael Christensen/Kevin Estre/Dirk Werner
95Aston Martin RacingAston Martin Vantage GTENicki Thiim/Marco Sorensen/Richie Stanaway
97Aston Martin RacingAston Martin Vantage GTEDarren Turner/Jonny Adam/Daniel Serra
LMGTE Am54Spirit of RaceFerrari 488 GTEThomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci/TBA
61Clearwater RacingFerrari 488 GTEMatt Griffin/Keita Sawa/Weng Sun Mok
77Dempsey - Proton RacingPorsche 911 RSRChristian Ried/Marvin Dienst/Matteo Cairoli
86Gulf RacingPorsche 911 RSRMike Wainwright/Ben Barker/Nick Foster
98Aston Martin RacingAston Martin Vantage GTEPaul Dalla Lana/Mathias Lauda/Pedro Lamy

Photos: fiawec.com,

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