This time last year, the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship Superseason began, with the flag falling on the first race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Now, 12 months later, the penultimate round of the championship is upon us, and there is still a lot to play for.
Although they hold a 15 point lead over the sister car, the different point scoring system at the 24 Hours of Le Mans means it will be very difficult for the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car in the hands of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to take the endurance championship this weekend. However, with Alonso announcing he will leave the WEC at the end of this season, he will certainly be putting it all on the line to try and take the title that Toyota have not held since 2014.
The rest of the LMP1 competitors sit a distant 39 points behind the two hybrid Toyotas, meaning that something will have to go very wrong for the Japanese team in the next two rounds to see them not take both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ championships.
Stoffel Vandoorne will make his WEC debut this weekend, after securing the seat of Jenson Button in SMP Racing. The Brit stepped away from the seat, which he was due to return to for Le Mans, due to family commitments. Vandoorne takes the seat that had been Brendon Hartley‘s for his home race to give him some time in the car ahead of the blue-ribboned event.
The championship battle for LMP2 has been swinging between Signatech Alpine and Jackie Chan DC Racing for the entirety of the season. Jackie Chan did have both of their cars strongly in contention to take the title, but a complete driver change ahead of the 2019 races for the #37 left only the #38 car of Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi in the battle.
This class has also turned into a two horse race as the two aforementioned cars are on double the points of their class competitors.
Porsche GT Team looks to have the LM GTE Pro class in control, with an 20-point buffer between them and third place. A surprising third place, given that AF Corse have not had such strong showings in the last few races, but reigning class champions James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi have stayed consistent and kept scoring good points.
Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen have continued their strong performance after claiming class victory at Le Mans last year, and look to be set to take the GT Endurance Drivers’ World Championship this season. They’re currently 25 points ahead of the sister Porsche, and have 45 over the third-placed #51 Ferrari.
Porsche are also significantly leading the way in the GT Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship, holding a 100-point lead over Ferrari. Ferrari, Ford and Aston Martin are only separated by 25 points, whilst BMW are at the bottom of the points table a further 15 points off.
The loss of all points scored up until the 6 Hours of Shanghai last year has really hurt Dempsey-Proton Racing in GTE Am. The class Le Mans-winning Porsche of Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer has continued to keep up its winning steak and climbed back to fifth in the championship, but this season will always be a story of what could have been for the team.
Having scored their maiden victory in the Superseason, Team Project 1 are currently leading the standings and doing a superb job of staying ahead of the competition. They have a 25 point lead over the second-placed Spirit of Race Ferrari and 34 over last year’s class champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in the #98 Aston Martin Racing.