Fans of Prototype sports cars will have plenty of Prototype entries to choose from here at the Lone Star Le Mans.
Between the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship there will be four different styles of Prototypes competing at The Circuit of The Americas this weekend.
Three of the four Prototype combinations compete in the WeatherTech Championship, where the top Prototype class matches the Chevrolet powered Corvette Daytona Prototypes from Action Express, Wayne Taylor Racing and VisitFlorida Racing against the LM P2-styled Mazda, Michael Shank Racing Ligier Honda and radical DeltaWing entries.
With just two races remaining in the 2016 WeatherTech Championship, Action Express co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa have a one-point lead over teammates Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky and Jordan Taylor are just eleven points out as the Daytona Prototype era draws to a close here and at Road Atlanta.
Looking for their first win after leading recent events, the MAZDA Motorsports pairing of Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez may be the ones to break the recent DP stranglehold.
Teams in the top class in the WeatherTech Championship can use an all-pro driver line-up, while the similar WEC LMP2 class uses a Pro-Am driver combination.
One of the most cost-efficient formulas in motorsports, the WeatherTech Championship Prototype Challenge class features a single-specification package of identical, open-cockpit, Chevrolet powered Prototypes.
With identical cars, the Pro-Am format puts a premium on car set-ups, race strategies and the performance of the lower rated driver to match up with his or her peers. Leading the WeatherTech Championship is the Starworks Motorsport pair of Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande who hold a seven point lead over PR1/Mathiasen’s Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon.
Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson of JDC-Miller are third.
FIA WEC LMP1 CLASS
The FIA WEC has a different approach to its top Prototype class. Centered on the Le Mans 24 Hours race, the WEC series features some of the most exotic cars in motorsports today.
Pairs of hybrid Audi, Toyota and Porsche factory team entries do battle in six-hour races at Silverstone, Spa, Nurburgring, Mexico, COTA, Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain.
The WEC LMP1 hybrids combine an internal combustion engine with powerful hybrid and energy recovery systems to generate nearly 1,000 horsepower.
Series organizers have steadily ratcheted down fuel allocations each year to encourage development of alternative powertrains. As a result, each manufacturer has chosen a distinct path.
- Toyota – 2.4 liter direct injection twin-turbo V6 with an 8MJ hybrid system.
- Porsche – 2.0 liter turbocharged engine with a lithium-ion battery and engine generator unit on the front axle.
- Audi – 4.0 liter turbo diesel V6 and a lithium-ion system generating 6MJ.
Fresh from the victory at Mexico earlier this month, Porsche’s Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, the defending WEC series champions, arrive at COTA desperately trying to regain ground in the WEC Driver Championship and narrow the gap to their Le Mans winning teammates, Neal Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.
Toyota, which saw its victory hopes cruelly evaporate in the final minutes at Le Mans, has Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin currently second in the championship.
They are followed by Audi’s Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis in third and Audi’s Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler stand fourth.
The distinctive green and black of Scott Sharp’s Extreme Speed Motorsports team is familiar to WeatherTech Championship and WEC fans alike as the cars are currently interchangeable.
The ESM team were the overall winners of the first two races of the 2016 WeatherTech Championship; the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Sharp, Johnannes van Overbeek, Ed Brown and Pipo Derani aboard a Honda powered LMP2.
The team, now Nissan powered, arrives at COTA fresh from a podium finish for Ryan Dalziel, Derani and Chris Cumming in the LMP2 class at the recent WEC 6 Hours of Mexico race.
With a Pro-Am driver format, the field is always tight and the cars have subtle design differences to reflect their constructor. With four Prototype classes in a powerful racing doubleheader, Prototype fans have the best of both worlds here at the COTA.