The FIA World Endurance Championship heads to their first of two North American rounds this weekend for the 6 Hours of Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
At last year’s event, the first ever WEC race held in Mexico, the Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber Porsche 919 Hybrid took victory despite two mid-race rain showers that forced teams to adapt their strategies to the conditions.
Second place in the 2016 race went to the No. 7 Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler and the No. 6 Toyota TS050 of Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin, and Kamui Kobayashi came third.
This year, Bernhard and Hartley are back with new teammate Earl Bamber. Leading the championship, the trio looks to repeat their 2016 feat and extend their lead over championship rivals Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davison and Kazuki Nakajima in the No. 8 Toyota.
Currently, the Porsche drivers hold a 30 point advantage in the standings over boys from Toyota.
“The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is one of my favorite circuits on the calendar with its street track feel and stadium atmosphere,” Hartley said.
“We won the race last year and return this year with the same goal in mind.
“Although we had the bad news Porsche will stop its LMP1 program at the end of this season, every single member of the team will continue giving their very best and fight for the titles.”
In GTE-Am, Michelin-shod teams swept the first four positions in Mexico City in 2016, with victory going to the No. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.
Michelin cars have a chance to take victory in three of four categories—repeating in LMP1 and GTE-Am and a chance in GTE-Pro. But optimal tire performance will be even more critical on the high-altitude street circuit.
“This circuit is pretty much about acceleration and braking,” Jerome Mondian the Endurance Racing Programme Manager for Michelin Motorsport said.
“The track is generally narrow with several straights, plus some heavy braking and a number of slow, practically 90-degree turns.
“Given that engine power and notably downforce are lower because of the high altitude, the demands on the tires are different to other circuits.
“It will be necessary to keep an eye on wear at the rear because of frequent re-acceleration from low speeds.”