WEC preview: Road to Le Mans set to start at Silverstone

Nick Leventis will drive for the Strakka Racing team this weekend
Nick Leventis will drive for the Strakka Racing team this weekend

The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) starts at Silverstone this weekend, with the local circuit hosting the first round of the new season.

Prototype and GT cars will line-up at 12pm on Sunday afternoon for the 6-Hours of Silverstone, the first of nine races that will take place around the globe this year.

The main focus for all teams and drivers participating in the World Endurance Championship is the Le Mans 24-Hour Race that will this year take place on the weekend of June 18/19.

Reigning FIA WEC champions, Porsche will be joined on-track at Silverstone in the leading LMP1 class by fellow manufacturer teams, Audi and Toyota.

Each manufacturer will field two cars in the race, with Aylesbury Vale’s Mark Webber, a former winner of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, driving the number 1 Porsche 919-Hybrid.

Brackley’s Anthony Davidson, the 2014 WEC champion, will drive the number 5 Toyota TS050-Hybrid with Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.

Davidson said this week: “We feel that the development of the new Toyota has gone well, and we are all very keen to start the season. After months of hard work it will be really good to finally get the season underway at Silverstone.”

Whittlebury-based Strakka Racing displayed great testing pace during the pre-season Prologue at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France last month, and arrive for their home race full of confidence.

Thornborough’s Danny Watts will lead the team’s challenge for victory in the LMP2 category of the race. The local speed king will be joined in the team’s Gibson 015S-Nissan by Jonny Kane and Stowe’s Nick Leventis.

Watts said: “We have a great team spirit at Strakka and to start the season is great news!

“We have been working so hard for so long to make this season as good as possible, and now action is about to start.

“We always feel some pressure at Silverstone because it is our home race, but we are used to pressure and we actually relish it.

“LMP2 looks very strong this year and we know we will have to work hard to be successful, but if we can carry over the speed we had at Paul Ricard’s test to the race at Silverstone, then we shouldn’t be far away.”

The Manor team, who have recently moved to a new team headquarters at Silverstone, will field two cars in LMP2.

The John Booth-managed team is the original element of the Manor F1 squad, and the team’s professionalism has allowed them to put together a strong package for the new season.

Two Oreca 05-Nissan cars have been entered for the season, and at Le Mans, with experienced sportscar racer, Tor Graves, leading the team’s driver line-up.

Free practice for all WEC entrants takes place today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday), with qualifying also taking place then. The race starts at 12pm on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Murphy Prototypes have recently moved from Brackley to Silverstone, and they will contest the European Le Mans Series race at Silverstone which takes place tomorrow.

The team will field an Oreca 03S-Nissan in the LMP2 class for Michael Lyons and Marc Goossens, while Tony Ave and Doug Peterson will drive a Ginetta-Nissan in the LMP3 class.

The ELMS race starts at 2.30pm, lasting for a duration of four hours.