WEC Season 11 about to kick off over at Sebring with the Prologue test

Thursday, March 09, 2023


This weekend sees the starting track action of the World Endurance Championship’s season 11 with its pre-season Prologue official test unleashing their thirty-seven full season entries around the historic track of Sebring International Raceway in Florida.

2023 will also see the final year of the GTE class as the gentleman class races out its final season of ACO rules racing having seen their Pro class pull down the curtain at the end of last season in Bahrain.

Before the Championship moves across to its own version of the GT3 class next season, three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE crews will again compete with returning faces probably balancing out others new to both the car and class of racing.

The #777 D’Station Racing GTE is again being supported by the TF Sport team with team boss Satoshi Hoshino again being partnered by his team manager in Tomonobu Fujii but with the former open wheel racer Casper Stevenson replacing Charlie Fagg within the teams silver grade position after a decent debut GT year for the twenty-year-old last season within the GT World Challenge Europe Series with the similarly functioning Mercedes AMG GT3.

Last year’s winning #33 car of Ben Keating has this year be replaced by Ahmad Al Harthy’s Oman Racing crew – still with the assistance of the TF Sport team as his #25 AMR Vantage GTE entry is listed under the banner of ORT by TF Sport.

Joining the WEC debuting Omani within that car is another WEC debutant in Michael Dinan each competing under the more experienced guiding hands of Charlie Eastwood. With many of these drivers (and Casper Stevenson) having tested last week at both Paul Ricard and at Monza with Al Harthy’s last year’s European Le Mans entered Vantage GTE, the Prologue will also reveal the cars new livery in the flesh for the first time on track.

Finally but certainly no means least, we have last year’s WEC GTE Am runners up in Paul Dalla Lana and Nicki Thiim aboard their #98 Northwest AMR Vantage GTE. Still only a couple of days away from the start of track action, do we still not know the identity of their third, silver ranked driver – as similar situation to this time last season with David Pittard's eligibility.

This weekend’s four – three-hour test sessions over both Saturday and Sunday will probably not give us any surprises in who’s fast and who’s not as regulation compliance and housekeeping needs ahead of next weekend’s opening 1000mile (8 Hour) round will take precedence over the risk of damage putting in a pointlessly fast lap. Then doing that, there is also the risk of affecting your platforms BoP setting – something which has already been established by the Championship’s technical boffins.

That sees the three Aston’s start with a full level of 88 litres which is a minor change of +2 litres on the last round in Bahrain but -1 litre to what was permitted at Sebring ’22. Turbo boast remains roughly the same too, but the cars base weight has also been levelled out at 1245kg against a starting base weight of 1237kg at Sebring ’22. This class will still use a system of success ballast at the next round as another form of continual assessment as the season progresses.

Another regulation change for all classes in 2023 will be the banning of forced and implied tyre warmer with the words ‘ambient’ temperature being used to describe the temperature that all tyres must be prior to fitting. It will be such that tyres may still be scrubbed being sessions but must be down more than two hours before the next round and that tyres must not be stored in full sunlight in order to artificially change their temperature.

With the weekend’s testing sessions over, the thirty-seven cars will then be prepared for Wednesday’s opening two Free Practice sessions before Thursday’s third Free Practice and Qualifying ahead of a Friday midday (local) green flag for the 1000miles of Sebring.

Photo credits – AMR
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