Just four rounds of the 2017 World Endurance Championship remain as the grid moves from South America to North to take on the Circuit of the Americas. Most of the championship battles are still all to play for in the fly-away portion of the season. Ahead of this weekend’s race, TheCheckeredFlag gets you ready for the Lone Star Le Mans with updates about the current state of this year’s WEC.
If Porsche continue to perform the way they have in the last two rounds of the championship, Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber look to be set on walking away with the Driver’s championship and taking the third consecutive title for the German team. Toyota Gazoo Racing have been struggling a lot to match the pace that the high-downforce aero kit Porsche have. The Porsche #2 team currently lead the championship by 41 points. 104 still remain to be achieved, but if the situation remains the same for the rest of the season, Hartley, Bamber and Bernhard could be crowned champions at the 6 Hours of Fuji.
Toyota go into this weekend with a driver change. Anthony Davidson is, for personal reasons, not attending or partaking in the 6 ours of COTA this weekend. Stephane Sarrazin will take the place of the British driver alongside Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the championship contending car. This means that Davidson will fall out of contention for the Driver’s title as he will be a race down on his teammates in the #8 Toyota.
The impressive #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 car still leads the Endurance Trophy championship, but their lead has been reduced after a poor performance last time out at the 6 Hours of Mexico. Finishing ninth whilst their championship rivals took the class win has brought second-placed #31 Vaillante Rebellion to 23 points behind. Another bad race from Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent could see Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal take the lead of the championship for the first time this year.
The Signatech Alpine #36 trails third in the Team’s Championship with 76 points, but with the many driver shuffles that the crew have seen there is no distinctive team for the Endurance Trophy. Gustavo Menezes is currently the sole driver in third place in the endurance trophy. He trails the leaders by 42 points. It is a gap that can mathematically be closed, but the performance of the two cars ahead have been strong all season.
The race a fortnight ago belonged to AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing as the pair of them battled for the class victory throughout the six hours. However, an alright performance sees Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx remain at the top of the LM GTE Driver’s Championship. There main Championship rivals had been Le Mans 24 Hours winners; Jonny Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra but as their Le Mans performance has been their one and only peak in the season they have fallen down to eighth in the title hunt.
It is now Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz who threaten the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK championship lead. Only one race has the Porsche GT Team 911 RSR not been on the podium this season, and although the win has eluded them so far it has put them only eight points off the lead. With Ford‘s performance having seemed to slip a little in the last couple of rounds it will be interesting to see how the championship pans out.
Ferrari are the team to beat in the GT World Endurance Manufacturer’s Championship, with Ford as the team trailing in second by nine points. Ford may not have been fighting at the front for the last few rounds but they have been consistent and that is what has placed them so high in both championships. Porsche is at the bottom of the manufacturer’s with 131 points, nine behind third-placed Aston Martin. 31 points cover the entire championship.
A change at the top of the LM GTE Am Endurance Trophy championship after the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche won the Am class at the 6 Hours of Mexico. 10 points separate the new championship leaders from the #99 Aston Martin Racing trio. The Dempsey-Proton team have been on the podium for every race of this season and have won the last two. They will be looking to make it a hattrick of wins to extend their lead over AMR this weekend.
Third-placed Clearwater Racing is only six points off of second in the championship, meaning that the top three are covered by 16 points. That is a fairly small margin with only four races of the season left. The performance of the #61 Ferrari has been down recently, with the team missing out on the podium that they had always occupied in the last two rounds. The race in Mexico was a Dempsey-Proton versus Aston Martin Racing affair which did not give any of the other teams a look in at the top two. However, Clearwater could only manage a fifth-place finish. If they want to remain in the championship battle they will need to find some more pace this weekend.
Racing at the Circuit of the Americas gets underway tomorrow at 18:00 BST. The race takes place on Saturday for this event, with lights out at 18:00 BST. It will be a long venture into the night, with chequered flag dropping at midnight, but with all the championships still fairly wide open it looks to be an exciting six-hour event.