Enthusiast's Guide: The FIA World Endurance Championship


This weekend, the FIA will be launching their 2014 season of the World Endurance Championship in Jolly Old at the historic and heralded Silverstone circuit. The 2014 season has a lot of changes in store for the series, including new engine regs, the retirement of a legend in the form of Allan McNish, the return of Porsche to top-tier of international motor racing, and a bit of shuffling in the lower ranks. As the season opener is coming up in just a few day’s time, we will continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series and important races all over the world. Previously we have covered The TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, the 12 hours of Sebring, the Bathurst 12 hourFormula 1, the Pirelli World Challenge, and IndyCar. This time, we’re here to discuss my personal favorite form of international racing, the FIA WEC!


With the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup beginning the trend in 2010 with a three-race season, the World Endurance Championship picked up the pace in 2012, and has grown international sports cars to a level not seen since the Group C late-80s-early-90s heyday. Following pretty strictly to the rules for Le Mans cars set by the french governing body, the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Oueste), the WEC provides a relatively steady ruleset and plenty of international high-profile coverage for teams to take advantage of. With an excellent formula for all tiers of Le Mans racing, the WEC has been growing every year since it began.

Built on a platform of technological advancement, “green initiatives”, and some pretty kick-ass racing, the WEC has been met with critical acclaim pretty much across the board. In 2012, the ante was sufficiently upped from the ILMC’s 3 race season to an 8 race season, incorporating tracks in Europe, the Middle-East, North America, South America, and Asia. With most races being run at 6 hours in length, and Le Mans, of course, being run at its traditional 24 hour length. Since Peugeot exited LMP1 just before the inaugural year of the WEC,  Audi has simply dominated the series, having taken constructors championships in both 2012 and 2013, but if I’m honest, Toyota has started to give them a run for their money.

This year, more than any other, should be a supremely exciting season in the WEC, and we’re about to show you why.


Current Season:

The 2014 WEC season consists of an 8 race schedule of multi-class endurance-style sports car races. Four classes contest at each event, each slightly faster than the last. This selection of classes adds another twist to each event with the faster cars having to pick their way through the slower cars, while the slower cars must watch their mirrors to avoid collision with a quicker car. Staying alert and being quick for 6 hours is a big ask for a lot of teams, and the 24 hour race in June has its own set of challenges. Add in the fact that all teams must run to a certain fuel economy number this year, and the challenges are stacked even higher. 

There are four classes in the WEC currently; LMP1, LMP2, GTE Pro, and GTE Am


LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) class is the fastest class in the world of sportscars, and the most technologically advanced as well. 

Last year, LMP1 cars were restricted on their engine size (Diesel: 3.7 liters, Turbo Petrol: 2.0 liters, Naturally Aspirated Petrol: 3.4 liters), their boost pressure (diesel: 2.8 bar, petrol: 2.5 bar), and via air restrictors. This year, however, the engine displacement limit has been removed, the restriction on boost has been bumped up to 4 bar, and there will be no restrictors. Using rules similar to Formula 1 (though at the same time quite different), each car has a set limit on the fuel they can burn in a race, as well as a limit on the quantity of fuel that can be burned at any given second throughout the race. There are three factory teams running hybrid-powered cars this year, as well as a pair of privateer teams running standard petrol engine prototypes. Additionally, chassis have been allowed a decrease in the minimum weights, wheel widths have been mandated narrower, and cockpits have been mandated to place the drivers in a more upright seating position for visibility and safety concerns. 

This year’s schedule looks phenomenal, and should play to a very diverse crowd on some very diverse tracks. Two rounds will be run in the evening (Bahrain and Circuit of the Americas), and of course Le Mans will be run “twice around the clock”.

There are effectively two sub-classes of LMP1 this year, LMP1-H for the factory hybrid cars, and LMP1-L for the privateers. Within LMP1-H, the teams are allowed to choose whether they would like to recuperate 2, 4, 6, or 8 megajoules of hybrid energy per lap, and each has its own set of complications. For example, Audi has chosen only 2 megajoules, because it has allowed them to keep their hybrid system lighter, and require less cooling. Additionally, they say that 8 megajoules is really only feasible at a long track like Le Mans, and would handicap their car for the remainder of the season. Porsche’s 919 hybrid was for the 8 megajoule allowance, but homologated for only 6 megajoules after some testing and deliberation. Toyota have also opted for the 6-megajoules, but are running their hybrid system through only a single super-capacitor. Toyota’s car provides electric energy to all four wheels (more motors), while both Porsche and Audi have elected to run an electrically driven pseudo all-wheel-drive system, with combustion engines powering the rear wheels, and electric motors powering the front wheels. Audi’s e-tron Quattro system is an update of the “flybrid” system they used last year. It’s all a bit confusing, but the cars are made to be faster and more efficient than ever before. Just know that it involves some form of ERS, and in the case of Porsche, that means crazy electric turbochargers.

So far, the Porsche has proven to be quickest over one lap, topping the pre-season test times, as well as the first practice this morning at Silverstone.  How that will affect their ability to run quickly over a long run is yet to be seen. Road & Track sensationally called the Toyota TS040 a “1000 hp AWD Le Mans Kaiju”. Nobody knows the true figures except insiders, but it has been intimated that Porsche has even more than that on tap. This could be the resurgence of the CanAm and European Interseries races that we’ve been waiting for for 40 years.

My money’s on – It’s really hard to bet against Audi, but I think Porsche has built a killer car and assembled a great team. Toyota are incrementally getting closer to the front of the field, but knowing the Japanese approach to motorsport, they’ll likely not win with regularity until next season (before packing it all up and walking away from the sport).


LMP1-H Entrants – 

Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R18 e-tron Quattro LMP1 (4.0 liter turbo-diesel V6)

 Car #1 – Tom Kristensen, Loic Duval, and Lucas di Grassi

Car #2 – Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, and Marcel Fassler

Car #3 – Oliver Jarvis, Marco Bonanomi, and Filipe Albuquerque

Car 3 will be running a limited season, currently believed to be only the Spa and Le Mans rounds.

Toyota Racing – Toyota TS040 Hybrid LMP1 (3.7 liter naturally aspirated V8)

Car #7 – Alexander Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin, and Kazuki Nakajima

Car #8 – Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi, and Nicolas Lapierre

Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 (2.0 liter turbo V4)

Car #14 – Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani

Car #20  – Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, and Brendon Hartley


LMP1-L Entrants – 

Lotus – T139 LMP1 (AER built P60 Turbo V6)

Car #9 – Christijan Albers, Thomas Holzer, and James Rossiter

Lotus will be sitting out the Silverstone round this weekend.

Rebellion Racing – R-One Lola B12/60 (Toyota built RV8KLM 3.4 liter naturally aspirated V8)

Car #12 – Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld, and Mathias Beche

Car #13 – Fabio Leimer, Dominik Kraihamer, and Andrea Belicchi


LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) is a cost-capped prototype category that requires a production “stock block” engine with some modification. This class has never really gotten the attention that has been given to the higher category, (Exceptions being here in the US with the Acura vs. Porsche battles of 2008ish, and the current European Le Mans Series and TUSCC, where no LMP1 cars compete). This year, as in the past, the class is absolutely dominated by Nissan powerplants, mounted in a handful of different chassis manufacturers.

The driving talent in this grid is pretty amazing, and they should be able to shuffle these cars around quite well, making for some excellent racing. 

OAK racing have downsized to 1 entry, now run under the G-drive racing banner. Delta-ADR and Gulf Racing Middle East have joined forces to form Millenium Racing. SMP Racing enters the field from the European Le Mans Series, while Greaves Motorsport leaves the WEC in favor of the ELMS. The Hong Kong based KCMG team have entered from the Asian Le Mans series, after a few WEC rounds last year on an invitational basis. The PeCom team that ran in 2013 has been dissolved.

My money’s on – G-Drive killed it in 2013, and now that they are teamed with OAK, they are surely the safe bet. With a team like Strakka stepping down from LMP1 to work with a chassis manufacturer like DOME, however, there should be some tight fights in this one. 


LMP2 Entrants – 

Strakka Racing – Dome Strakka S103 (Nissan 4.5 liter V8)

Car #21 – Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane, and Danny Watts

Millennium Racing – Oreca 03 (Nissan 4.5 liter V8)

Car #22 – Fabien Giroix, John Martin, and Oliver Turvey

Car #23 – Stefan Johansson, Shinji Nakano, and Mike Conway

G-Drive Racing – Morgan LMP2 (Nissan 4.5 liter V8)

#26 – Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla, and Julien Canal

SMP Racing – Oreca 03 (Nissan 4.5 liter V8)

#27 – Sergey Zlobin, Maurizio Mediani, and Nicolas Minassian

#37 – Viktor Shaitar, Kirill Ladygin, and Anton Ladygin

KCMG – Oreca 03 (Nissan 4.5 liter V8)

#47 Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley, Tsugio Matsuda, and Alexandre Imperatori.


The GTE (Grand Touring Endurance) class is the category for street-based tin-toppers, in which recognizable sports cars compete, and is virtually unchanged from the 2013 specification. The class, as has been the case for a couple of years, has been split into GTE-Pro and GTE-Am, where the pros are usually factory-backed and given the most up-to-date machinery, and GTE-Am has a minimum number of hours to be covered by non-professional drivers, and must use cars that are at least 1 year old in specification. This year the class will be contested by factory Porsche’s 911 RSR, Ferrari’s 458 Italia, and Aston Martin’s Vantage GTE.

Larbre, the only team running Corvette GTE cars in the WEC last year, has now moved to a part-time LMP2 effort, and left the GTE category altogether. The Krohn Racing Ferrari team has left the WEC to pursue a program in the United States.

My money’s on – (GTE-Pro) Porsche. While AF Corse are a de-facto factory Ferrari group, and the Aston team is also a factory effort, I think this year will be a big one for last year’s Le Mans victors. 

My money’s on – (GTE-AM) It’d be hard to bet against the Aston Martin team, for sheer force of numbers. The all-Danish team has a pretty stacked lineup this year, and should fare well in the Am category.


GTE-Pro Entrants – 

AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

Car #51 – Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander (A third driver will be added for Le Mans)

Car #71 – Davide Rigon and James Calado (A third driver will be added for Le Mans)

Ram Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

Car #52 – Matt Griffin and Alvaro Parente (A third driver will be added for Le Mans)

Porsche Team Manthey – Porsche 911 RSR 

Car #91 – Patrick Pilet, Jorg Bergmeister, and Nick Tandy

Car #92 – Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, and Richard Lietz

Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE

Car #97 – Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke (A third driver will be added for Le Mans)

Car #99 – Darryl O’Young, Alex MacDowall, and Fernando Rees

Car #89 – Bruno Senna (Two other drivers will be named at a later date)


GTE-Am Entrants – 

Ram Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

Car #53 – Johnny Mowlem, Ben Collins, and Mark Patterson

AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

Car #61 – Luis Perez Companc, Mauro Cioci, and Mirko Venturi

Car #81 – Stephan Wyatt, Michele Rugolo, and Sam Bird

Prospeed Competition – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

Car #75 – Francois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxiviere, and Emmanuel Collard

Proton Competition – Porsche 911 RSR

Car #88 – Christian Reid, Klaus Bachler, and Khaled Al Qubaisi

8 Star Motorsports – Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

Car #90 – Enzo Potolicchio, Gianluca Roda, and Paolo Ruberti

Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE

Car #95 – David Heinemeier Hansson, Kristian Poulsen, and Nicki Thiim (Christoffer Nygaard has also been listed as an entrant in this car, potentially for Le Mans only)

Car #98 – Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, and Christoffer Nygaard

Car #96 – Richie Stanaway (Two other drivers will be named at a later date)

How to watch:

Plain and quite simple, the WEC has done things correctly (especially considering they are an FIA championship). Each race, including Le Mans, has a number of live-stream feeds, including the live broadcast on FIAWEC.com and their own LiveStream.com channel. An entire season subscription is only 20 euros, or you can sign up for each race individually at 5 euros. Additionally, in-car video, track-side video, and other streams are offered through a number of outlets, most notably Audi’s own broadcast at Audi.tv. After the races are over, the event is parceled into smaller hunks and uploaded to YouTube. 

For great English-language coverage of the races, tune in to RadioLeMans.com for live streaming radio. Each of their broadcasts are then loaded to iTunes for free download in podcast form, often uploaded while the race is still in progress.



Race 1 –6 Hours of Silverstone, Silverstone, United Kingdom. April 20th

Race 2 – WEC 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. May 3rd

Race 3 – 24 Heures Du Mans, Le Mans, France. June 14-15th

Race 4 – 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX, United States. September 20th

Race 5 – 6 Hours of Fuji, Oyama, Japan. October 12th

Race 6 – 6 hours of Shanghai, Shanghai, China. November 2nd

Race 7 – 6 Hours of Bahrain, Sakhir, Bahrain. November 15th

Race 8 – 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. November 30th


All photos provided by FIAWEC.com and Adrenal Media.


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