The WEC rides back into town for Round five in Texas

Monday, February 17, 2020

Three weeks later than originally intended and at a venue different from that originally intended for this 2019/20 season, the World Endurance Championship returns for its fifth round of its eight round season, this time at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Originally scheduled to take place at Interlagos in Brazil, various 'difficulties' at that circuit left the WEC looking for a quick and convenient substitute and with cars and team equipment expected to be already en-route from Bahrain to the Americas, North America again soon became a location of choice (or just convenience) especially with the following round of the Championship being at Sebring, Florida just a month later.

With the eight hours of Bahrain having taken place two weeks before Christmas, this change of date in the schedule allowed for several WEC drivers to participate in other headline GT racing at bespoke venues such as Daytona and Bathurst but for many of the Aston Martin Racing drivers, it has been a long and quiet eight weeks since the deserts of Bahrain. Unfortunately for those in attendance at these two events, the race cars in which these AMR WEC drivers were aboard failed to make the end of their respective races whilst others meanwhile, had to make do with development testing with the AMR Vantage GT3 at circuits around Europe or simply maintaining their fitness regime.

The lucky ones have even got to have a go in one of three Aston Martin Valkyrie’s at Silverstone recently.

Last week we heard confirmation of AF Corse's successful appeal that saw their #51 car's race win at Shanghai back in November 2019 reinstated.  That news obviously has had the effect in dropping the #97 AMR GTE Pro car of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn back down to fourth (as per the finishing order after the four hour race) which in turn slightly reduces their championship point tally but that being said, we still enjoy the sight of having the #95 AMR crew of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim headlining the GTE Pro class Championship table by 15 points with the #97 crew just 2 points behind the now second placed #51 AF Corse Ferrari.

These Championship positions were thanks to a first and third finishing position for the #95 and #97 cars respectively after eight hours of highly exciting racing in Bahrain.

Not letting the GTE Pro guys have it all their own way but Bahrain also saw the #98 AMR prepared GTE Am car of Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner return to the podium with their third podium of the season so far, finishing second behind the then highly dominant #57 Project 1 Porsche.
For TF Sports #90 GTE Am car, their own Balance of Performance criteria (different to that of the #98 AMR prepared car) was detrimental enough to dramatically penalise its performance on track, never really troubling the top half of the Am class field before technical issues on track and a long stop off in the garage eventually saw Salih Yoluc's red Honeybadger car retired from the race.

This time, there would be no more podium celebration for him and co-drivers Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam.

That result has left the #98 crew just ahead of the #90 crew in the GTE Am Drivers Championship table just a dozen or so points off the class leading Project 1 car.

Not raced at by the Championship in 2018, the Circuit of the Americas offers some fond memories for Aston Martin Racing and particularly Paul Dalla Lana in his #98 car as 2016 and 2017 gave him class wins with his then co-drivers Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda whilst the #95 of Sorensen and Thiim earned themselves both P1 and P4 in the same respective seasons.

Dalla Lana is expected to return to the race track for the first time since his skiing accident in January that saw him excluded from his IMSA Rolex 24 Vantage GTD programme at Daytona on the grounds of being unfit/unable to undertake the compulsory Roar before the 24 Test day. That position was ultimately taken by AMR Junior driver Andrew Watson who of course drives the Gulf Porsche in the WEC Am Class.

Suffering form an unfortunate calendar clash this weekend between his WEC and Asian Le Mans Series duties with the D'Station Racing AMR team, Ross Gunn is down to race at CoTA this weekend with his position in the #77 D'Station car being taken by Tom Gamble at Buriram this weekend.

Going into this weeks first track sessions of the event on Saturday, the FIA Endurance Committee have again issued their latest round of BoP adjustments (a per race occurrence in the case of the Am class) with the two AMR GTE Pro cars maintaining their performance settings of Bahrain whilst the two AMR GTE Am cars each receive a weight reduction to the tune of 30kg for the #90 TF Sport car and 15kg for the factory supported #98 car. That should hopefully bring all four cars into race winning contention in their respective classes at the weekend.

The six hour Lone Star Le Mans race is due to start at midday (local) this Sunday.

Photo credits - AMR / WEC / AML

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