Audi Nissan Porsche Toyota WEC

2015 LM24: Quick reference guide to LMP1 cars

Porsche 919 hybrid

The official FIA WEC website brings us a quick reference guide to the class of 2015 LMP1 cars. This year we have representation from Audi, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota. And the best thing about LMP1 is that the cars are all different.

Front-engined, mid-engined; rear wheel drive, front wheel drive, all wheel drive; petrol, diesel and all with varying types of energy recovery systems. It really is a technological masterclass, which will eventually heavily influence the cars we drive on the roads.

In order to try and equalise performance the cars have strict fuel flow limitations they must adhere to. That is, each car has a capped amount of fuel it can use on a single lap, using the 13.6km Circuit de la Sarthe as the basis.

You can download a full season PDF guide (54mb) from the WEC website, which goes into greater detail. After the break a quick reference guide is all yours.

The 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on the weekend of 13–14 June, with an official test session to be held this Sunday.

[Source: FIA WEC]

Nissan WEC

Nissan postpones race debut of GT-R LM Nismo

2015 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo

Nissan has withdrawn its radical new GT-R LM Nismo from the opening two races of the WEC season in order to focus on its Le Mans challenge.

Speaking to Autosport Darren Cox, Nissan motorsport boss, said: “Our main aim for this year was always Le Mans and we have decided to re-focus on that race.

“It’s no secret that with such a different car that we have faced a number of challenges, so right now we would rather be testing in April and May rather than racing.”

That means Nissan’s front-wheel drive focused LMP1 racecar will be absent from the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the 6 Hours of Spa and won’t make its track debut until the 24 Hours of Le Mans in mid-June.

The GT-R LM Nismo ran into problems with its engine mounts during its last test session, held at Sebring. There are also suggestions the car has failed its crash test. The required modifications would not leave enough time for the homologation process to take place before the Silverstone race.

Nissan will also miss the official season prologue at Paul Ricard (27–28 March).

World Endurance Championship CEO Gérard Neveu said: “Nissan is not the first manufacturer to miss the start of the season and they won’t be the last: Toyota previously did the same and they are now our world champions.

“To build an LMP1 hybrid programme is very challenging; it takes some time and we fully trust Nissan to be on the LMP1 grid of the WEC from Le Mans.”

[Source: Autosport & WEC]

Nissan WEC

2015 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo revealed

2015 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo Nissan has just revealed information and photos for its 2015 LMP1 challenger, the GT-R LM Nismo. And if you think it looks a bit wacky just wait until you cop a load of the car’s specifications. The GT-R LM Nismo is a front-engined, front-wheel drive racer. Yes, really, it’s a front-wheel drive; a bum dragger! It has 14″ rubber on the front axle and 9″ on the rears. It is, quite literally, totally arse about compared with what we’re used to seeing in top line motorsport. Remaining relatively true to its GT-R badge the petrol engine is a twin-turbo 3.0 litre V6. Ben Bowlby, Nissan LMP1 Team Principal and Technical Director, is the man responsible for this madness, or perhaps outright brilliance, only time will tell. He explains himself by saying: “The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is in automotive-speak a front-engined, front-wheel-drive car. The internal combustion engine drives the front wheels and the energy recovery system harvests energy from the front wheels. We’ve used the relatively low-powered internal combustion engine to drive the front wheels and then we add power from the ERS to augment acceleration. “The regulations have allowed us the freedom to create a significantly different looking car. Nissan are bold challengers who are prepared to innovate in order to get a high performance outcome so we’ve turned the whole concept of the conventional LMP1 car of 2014 on its head. The result is that our car looks different as the cockpit has been moved significantly rearwards to accommodate the engine at the front of the car.” Former F1 driver an winner of the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans Marc Gene has been named as the driver who will lead the charge in the GT-R LM Nismo. He’ll be taking part in the full 2015 WEC calendar and has realistic hopes for the year ahead and is hopeful of a good showing at Le Mans. “This season we should just focus on learning about and improving the car every time we head out onto the track,” Gene explained. “Making it to the finish would already be an achievement on it’s own. I hope we can show that the car is competitive, especially at Le Mans. “I like the aggressive look of the car, which is a consequence of a well-thought and different design, not seen before at Le Mans. From the very first laps I felt very comfortable. I could feel the very powerful engine and high efficiency of the aerodynamics.” This is one wacky racer that will be fun to watch in 2015!

Audi Porsche Toyota Video WEC

2014 Le Mans video updates

#7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid

The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans is approaching half race distance and to date the race has been dominated by the #7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid. Alex Wurz is at the wheel right now and he holds a lead of over 2 minutes from the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with André Lotterer at the wheel.

Intermittent and heavy rain patches affected the race early and ended the chances of the #8 Toyota and #3 Audi after a coming together on the Mulsanne Straight. The Toyota was able to limp back into the pits and get back running again and it’s now in P6 13 laps behind the leader. Alas for the Audi its race was over.

Porsche seemed to be running a split strategy with its two 919 Hybrids. The #14 car was running hot early in the race, mixing it with the leaders, until an electrical glitch limiting the car’s speed after 30 minutes forced the car into pitlane. Meanwhile, Timo Bernhard’s more circumspect approach in the #20 919 paid dividends when for a short while he lead the race. His lack of outright pace made him vulnerable, though, and Bernhard was soon swallowed up by the #7 Toyota and the #2 and #1 Audis.

Mark Webber has finally had his first competition experience at Le Mans after two failed attempts in the late 90s with Mercedes. He put in some solid laps, driving well into the night, but said after his stint they’re having to manage some problems. The car is running relatively smoothly in fourth place but is two laps behind.

There’s a selection of video highlights for you after the break, along with the following links to help you foolow the action.

Audi Porsche Toyota WEC

Toyota favourites heading to Le Mans

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

The Toyota TS040 Hybrid has firmed as the car to beat at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two wins in the opening rounds of the WEC season had already set up Toyota as the 2014 front runners and the TS040’s abilities at the Circuit de la Sarthe were confirmed after last weekend’s official test session, when the two Toyotas topped the lap charts.

Two weeks out from the event this is the only opportunity for the teams get to run the full Le Mans layout. After the two day session the fastest time around the 13.6km circuit was set by the #8 Toyota (3:23:014).

Audi set the early pace with its R18 e-tron quattro, but in the end the defending champions had to make do with the third and fourth best times. Audi is the only of the LMP1 teams to run three cars and the remaining R18 split the two Porsche 919 Hybrids. The #14 Porsche was fifth and Mark Webber’s #20 919 the seventh and slowest of the factory-backed LMP1 runners.

Full statements from the three teams can be read after the break. The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on 14–15 June with Australian television coverage available on Foxtel’s Speed TV channel.

Audi Porsche Toyota WEC

Toyota wins 2014 6hrs of Spa

2014 6 Hours of Spa

Toyota has set itself up as the favourite for Le Mans after taking victory in the 6 Hours of Spa on the weekend. The #8 TS040 backed up its success at Silverstone with another win, while the #7 sister car came home third.

Splitting the two Toyotas was the #1 Audi R18, with all three cars completeing 171 laps of the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The #14 Porsche 919, which started from pole position, started well and established a lead of over 10 seconds in the first stint before a few minor issues with the hybrid system required attention. In the end Porsche had to be satisfied with fourth place, one lap behind the leaders.

A pair of Audi R18s filled positions five and six, with the #3 car running in low downforce Le Mans trim—the only of the three LMP1 teams to do so. Audi will be heading to the Circuit de la Sarthe with a lot more work to do than it is used to. The challenge from Toyota appears very real this year.

The #20 Porsche 919 of Mark Webber, had problems throughout the race. First with the rear dampers and later with the front drive shaft. They were able to finish the race but were 23 laps behinf the winning Toyota.

Porsche WEC

Porsche on pole for 6hrs of Spa

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche has given the WEC a bit of a shake by claiming pole position for tonight’s 6 Hours of Spa. The #14 919, qualified by Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, came up trumps as the track began to dry at a typically wet Spa circuit.

The #8 Toyota TS040 has backed up its win at Silverstone well and will share the front row with Porsche. The first of three Audi R18s will start from the second row, joined by the #7 Toyota. Mark Webber and his mates will start their #20 Porsche from from P5, followed by the remaining R18s.

Qualifying in the WEC is a combined effort with the results from two drivers averaged out. As the weather improved an otherwise relaxed Marc Lieb was almost caught out.

“This pole position means a lot to me,” Lieb said. “It has been hard work for a long time for many people. Taking pole position today came as a total surprise. On my first run the track wasn’t dry enough for slicks and then Neel got into the car.

“I was having a coffee in the back of the garage and watching him. Then I was suddenly told get your helmet back on and improve your earlier lap time. It was tough time management to get these two laps and I’m a very happy man. Now I hope for a good race.”

Audi Porsche Toyota WEC

Toyota wins 2014 6hrs of Silverstone

2014 6 Hours of Silverstone

The 2014 WEC season got off to the best possible start overnight after Toyota claimed a dominant 1–2 victory in a rain affected 6 Hours of Silverstone. Two laps behind the winning #8 Toyota TS040 (Davidson, Lapierre, Buemi) was the #20 Porsche 919 (Bernhard, Hartley, Webber). That result marks a promising return to the LMP1 category for Porsche.

“The team did a fantastic job all weekend,” said Anthony Davidson after the victory. “It looked like it would be an epic fight with Audi and Porsche if it had stayed dry, but we knew the rain was coming and we had set our car up for wet conditions.

“We made the right call on tyres, the strategy was just perfect; that’s how you win races.”

Defending champions Audi had a race to forget with both the R18s crashing out of contention. Luca di Grassi was at the wheel when the #1 R18 went out early in proceedings, while the #2 car lasted until mid-race distance having lost time due to a separate incident in the first hour.

The #14 Porsche 919 also went off-track briefly, although no major damage was done. However, its race came to an end early in the second hour due to a “technical problem”. This highlights how valuable the third place for the #20 car was, enabling the team to gather valuable track time and experience in addition to championship points.

In a three horse race, with two established rivals and a new kid on the block, this set of results builds anticipation for the 6 Hours of Spa in two weeks.

The Audis have shown they have raw pace, setting the fastest single lap in both qualifying and the race, and with multiple championships behind them they’re unlikely to repeat the double blunder we saw here at Silverstone.

Toyota has built on its LMP1 experience and this result will give them confidence to carry its momentum to Spa. While Porsche has shown it can have the reliability it needs to keep its more fancied rivals honest.

“It’s been a brilliant day for us,” Mark Webber siad post-race. “I’m happy to have played a small role in the effort that’s gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point.

“Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn’t their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tyres is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases.

“It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”

Official race reports and photos from Toyota, Porsche and Audi can be viewed after the break.

Porsche Video WEC

Porsche factory drivers talk about the 919 Hybrid

Mark Webber

Porsche made sure its drivers did more than lap the Paul Ricard circuit over recent days by asking them to tell the world how wonderful the new 919 Hybrid really is. This is what they came up with. That V4 engine sounds alright, too.

Audi Porsche Toyota WEC

Porsche fastest at two-day WEC Prologue

Porsche 919 Hybrid

The Porsche 919 Hybrid headed the field after the WEC’s official two-day Prologue test at Paul Ricard on the weekend. The #20 car of Mark Webber went fastest during the Friday evening session when Brendon Hartley posted a lap time of 1:41.289.

Hartley’s teammates, Timo Bernhard and Webber, also broke the 1:42 barrier on the first day of testing. The #2 Audi R18 with Andre Lotterer at the wheel set the next best time of the weekend when he went 1:42.073 on Friday afternoon.

Romain Dumas, driving the #14 919, recorded the third quickest lap with a best time of 1:42.126. Toyota’s fastest lap in the TS040 of 1:42.356 came during the Friday afternoon session.

There were two sessions run on Saturday, which were slower overall. The best times were in the 1:43s and were set by the #1 and #2 Audi R18s of Tom Kristensen and Marcel Fassler.

With the more open nature of the new LMP1 regulations it’s difficult to compare like with like. Aside from the different engine configurations found in the three factory LMP1 teams the Audi R18 can use up to 2MJ of recovered energy per lap, while the Porsche 919 and Toyota TS040 can use up to 6MJ. This means the regulations employ a complex measure of how much fuel each car can use per lap in order to try and keep performance as even as possible.

It’s probably best just to worry about which car is fastest against the clock and, if you care enough, then start looking into the reasons why. Needless to say all three teams were claiming success after the Prologue, saying that testing went to their pre-arranged schedules. It seems everyone’s a winner. For now.

The real winner will be known in a few weeks when the flag drops and the bullshit stops when racing begins in earnest at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 20 April.

Speaking after the Prologue Mark Webber explained just getting through the team’s program was a bonus for Porsche: “This test here was a big milestone. To enter two cars for the first time was a tremendous amount of hard work for the crew on the operational side.

“Smooth running was a well-deserved award and a good tonic for the guys after a long week. Every day we run we find more areas to improve, which is very encouraging. The track lay-out at Paul Ricard seems to suit our car very well. I’m curious to find out how we can perform in Silverstone.”

Porsche WEC

Porsche 919 ready for Prologue test

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Later tonight the 2014 WEC season has its first official preview when the two day Prologue test begins at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France. In preparation Porsche has put the final touches on its 919 Hybrid ahead of its first genuine test against the competition from Audi and Toyota.

Officially this will be Mark Webber’s first earnest hitout in the 919 as well, so we’ll be very keen to see how he goes.

Earlier this week the 919 was on track at Paul Ricard for three days of testing. It was the first time all six of the Porsche LMP1 drivers were on hand. Despite a few technical dramas Porsche say they have accumulated valuable experience in the 4,756km of completed testing so far.

“This test was a very challenging one for the entire crew,” explained Team Principal Andreas Seidl. “For the first time we were running two cars at the same time, which was demanding in terms of logistics and team coordination.

“The other target was to simulate a race weekend in order to prepare for the two six-hours races that are coming up. This was a very important experience for us. The test taught us that we have to improve in terms of reliability.

“With regards to the way the crew and drivers worked together as a team, we are going in the right direction. The next two days of testing here in Paul Ricard, during the Prologue, will be used to fine tune both the car’s set up, as well as the race specific processes.”

A reminder, too, that you can keep up to date with the Porsche 919 program via the @PorscheRaces twitter account.

Toyota WEC

Toyota TS040 Hybrid revealed

Toyota TS040 Hybrid

Toyota Racing has launched its 2014 challenger, the TS040 Hybrid. The team will continue to run a two car program with the same drivers as before, although the pairings have been slightly rearranged.

As in Formula 1 new regulation changes have been introduced for the 2014 season. Two of the main changes include a 100mm reduction in width of the cars and they must now use 25% less fuel compared with last year.

Despite the need to reduce fuel use these LMP1 cars have some serious grunt. The TS040 has a combined maximum power output of 736kW (1000PS). That power is produced thanks to a 383kW normally aspirated 3.7 litre V8 and 353kW of “all-wheel drive hybrid boost”.

There’s a video animation below which illustrates how the new all-wheel drive system works in the TS040, along with a bunch of pics and a brief press statement from Toyota Racing.

An official two day pre-season test session for all WEC cars begins later tonight.