The Le Mans winner Porsche goes to the Nürburgring this week with a new aerodynamic package for its 919 Hybrid. On the track in the Eifel mountains, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) holds its fourth of nine rounds with a less grueling six-hour race. A field of 33 race cars will compete on the 5.148 km track that calls for high downforce – the opposite of Le Mans. Prototypes and sports cars are divided into four classes, with the 919 Hybrid belonging to the top class for Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1).
After three out of nine rounds, Porsche leads the manufacturers’ standings with 127 points ahead of Audi (95) and Toyota (79). Porsche is also ahead in the drivers’ world championship Dumas/Jani/Lieb are leading with 94 points in total and an advantage of 39 points. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber have only scored 3.5 points yet and rank 19th.
“During the first two races and in Le Mans the competition was very close. For me it is important to stay calm. We’ve got a fast car and must focus on the job. Zero mistakes are key for a good result,” said Porsche driver Romain Dumas (38, France).
Toyota GAZOO Racing returns to battle a month after its heartbreaking Le Mans 24 Hours. Victory for the #5 car was taken away due to a mechanical failure minutes before the checkered flag, after the TS050 Hybrids showed themselves capable of beating Audi and Porsche.
Updated front and rear bodywork has been developed in the wind tunnels at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne to generate additional downforce at the cost of top speed, a combination which is better suited to the demands of the upcoming WEC circuits. When practice begins on Friday, the team’s priority will be to analyze the new package and fine-tune it for the Nürburgring Grand Prix track, which this year mutates to the tighter, Formula 1-specification Veedol Chicane.
“We need to look positively on the first part of the season. Out of the three races we were leading two of those until very late so I’m very confident that we will have a good performance level at Nürburgring as well. We all know how hard Le Mans was but this is behind us and it’s time to look to the rest of the season. We definitely want to win our first race of the year,” said Sébastien Buemi (TS050 Hybrid #5).
Audi faces a challenging time. Currently, Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis (BR/F/GB) are in second place in the standings, with a one-point advantage over their immediate rivals. As planned, Audi will be completing its reorganization for the 2016 season at its home round as well. Stefan Dreyer, who has been Project Leader LMP Engines up until now, will become new Head of LMP. Erik Schuivens is assuming the role of race engineer for the number “7” Audi R18. The Dutchman has already supported the first three rounds of the FIA WEC season with Audi.