Final preparations for 2016 ELMS/WEC opener

Monday, April 11, 2016

With final team and series preparations well under way for the opening rounds of the 2016 World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series at Silverstone this weekend one thing is certainly applicable on both counts - we are in for one heck of a race season!

Stepping up from (but still an intrinsical part of) the British GT Championship sees Andrew Howard's Beechdean Motorsport team enter their first full season of the ELMS championship having had a 'fairy tail" taster of the series at last year's finally in Portuagal where the team scooped a well deserved podium finish.

Having intended and indeed entered the series with the same driver line up as last year (being Andrew Howard, Jonny Adam and Alex MacDowall) clashing racing commitments with the British GT championship sees Adam being replaced with another AMR works driver in Darren Turner. Howard is also entered into the same BGT round at Brands Hatch but with ELMS taking centre stage he may have to sacrifice a back of the grid qualifying position at Brands Hatch should he not be able to transfer between circuits on Saturday in time.

The other welcome returnee to the ELMS meeting is that of the #96 Vantage GTE of Gulf Racing's Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall who will be accompanied by AMR works driver Richie Stanaway. This entry should be seen as a one off having had a very poor year in WEC last year but at least sees the grid entry raise to 45 cars for Silverstone.

Qualifying and race for this event will both be on Saturday.

With the ELMS GTE class running on a control Dunlop tyre, the teams should expect an improvement on performance from last year thanks to the increased level of winter development by Dunlop and their customer teams into the new tyre range that will for 2016 also include an full intermediate.

Over at the Silverstone Wing three Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE's will be prepared for the 6Hrs of Silverstone - two being in GTE Pro and one in GTE AM.

With the reduction in the numbers of cars entered into the championship this year by the factory it comes as now real surprise that the drivers named remain relatively static as to last year with the exception of a notable swap. Having competed in the infamous #97 car for many years now, Darren Turner finds himself swapping over to the #95 Young Driver car to accompany Marcus Sorensen and Nicki Thiim. Back in the #97 Turners driving partner of last year, Jonny Adam will be joined by the remnants of the last years #99 car in Fernado Rees and Richie Stanaway. The change around is solely due to the change in regulations in 2016 relating to the drivers seat form and dimensions.

In GTE Am, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda will have a big point to prove in 2016 following last years calendar that started so well before ending in disaster at Le Mans with a class win all but in the bag when the Canadian nosed the car into barriers with only a couple of hours to go. Despite some following good performances they were never able to recover the points deficit lost in France.

As with all the AMR cars, 2016 will see them bucking the trend by entering the WEC on Dunlop rubber with a confidential tyre range (for the Pro class cars only) that has been developed exclusively for them in a hope to recover ground lost to the Michelin runners last year - particularly Porsche and their mid to rear engined favour tyre. The #98 car will run on the ELMS spec tyre range.

Looking forward to this weekends events, one final thing is looking possible that may again upset proceedings - the weather forecast!!

The long range forecast for the circuit shows rain expected friday afternoon during the final Free Practice sessions of the day together with further rain showers during the whole race window of the ELMS event but the WEC qualifying may just avoid it. The forecast for Sunday appears cool but at least dry!

For those going to Silverstone don't forget it will be cold, it might well be wet but that just adds to the sparkle that creates some of the best racing in the country. Let the racing begin!!

Photo credits - Adrenal Media 
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