FIA World Endurance Championship: 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Preview
Round two of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place this Saturday (5 May) at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium where Britain’s Allan McNish, and Audi team-mates Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello, will be aiming to increase their lead in the driver standings.
After racing to victory at the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours in America back in March in their regular Audi R18 TDi, the hugely successful trio will now help make history at Spa when the brand new R18 e-tron Quattro hybrid car makes its competitive race debut.
The Michelin-shod prototype, the first LMP1 car to combine a diesel engine with a hybrid power system, actually broke cover at Sebring following the opening event of the WEC season. The race this Saturday, however, will be its first true test.
Piloting a second hybrid Audi, which features a flywheel developed by the Williams Formula One Team, which captures kinetic energy from the front axle during braking, will be 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours winners Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer.
Second in the standings are Audi R18 Ultra drivers Romain Dumas, Loic Duval and Timo Bernhard but at Spa, the latter is replaced by former F1 racer Marc Gene. Star names fill LMP1 with ex-Grand Prix ace Nick Heidfeld running alongside Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost in the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota while David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok team-up at JRM in its HPD ARX-03a.
Top British privateer team Strakka Racing, featuring Michelin columnist Danny Watts and fellow Brits Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis, will be hoping to continue its strong start to the inaugural WEC season during the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Finishing the championship-opener at Sebring eighth in the driver standings, the team-mates have a strong pedigree at Spa and will be keen to secure a season’s best result in their newly liveried HPD ARX-03a – which patriotically features the Union Flag on the ‘shark fin’ engine cover.
In the Michelin Green X Challenge – which ranks the teams/cars that maximise performance while consuming the least fuel – the table is headed by the AF Corse LM GTE Pro squad whose Ferrari F458 Italia is driven by former F1 racer Giancarlo Fisichella and fellow Italian Gianmaria Bruni.
Digital satellite and cable channel Motors TV will broadcast the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from 13.00 on Saturday with the addition of live online streaming at the official FIA World Endurance Championship website www.fiawec.com