After a DNF-ridden round 4 in Brazil, round 5 of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship will be part of the International Sports Car Weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The still new facility has hosted some fantastic racing over the last 10 months, including the notable 2012 United States Grand Prix, the Rolex Sports Car Series weekend, and the V8 Supercars Texas 400. Expectations are high and the FIA WEC and American Le Mans Series plan to exceed expectations during the stellar doubleheader weekend. In what is considered the very best out of hundreds of motor racing circuits in the United States and Canada, COTA will host this carnival of speed from September 20-22.
Also, HUGE news regarding TV broadcasting/airing for American fans! Along with the usual 52 min highlights reel, FOX Sports 1 will be showing the entire race LIVE!!!
After terrible luck that took them out of contention in the early stages at Interlagos, Toyota is hoping to bounce back and take the fight to the Audi juggernaut in LMP1
. Toyota has proven over and over again that they have pace to match Audi, but their durability and sheer bad luck has been the thorn in their sides. It is speculated that Toyota can now last a bit longer than Audi on a full fuel load in race trim, but that was never confirmed due to the #8's early retirement at Interlagos. All of these questions should be answered at Circuit of the Americas in what should be a thrilling battle in LMP1.
LMP2 again will have the largest number of entries at nine in class. Collin Kolles and his Czech-based Lotus-Praga team are perhaps the most eager for a decent finish after what can only be described as a disastrous season. Wrecked cars, lack of pace, and reliability problems look bad on paper, too; Spa was the only round where both cars actually finished! Russia's G-Drive Racing comes in as the class favorite after dominating the LMP2 class at Interlagos with their stunning Rusinov/Martin/Conway lineup. French outfit OAK Racing will again bring three cars, two of which could challenge for the LMP2 win: the #35 and the #24. The #45 "art car" will be driven by team owner Jacques Nicolet, gentleman driver Jean-Marc Merlin, and Frenchman Erik Maris, and will likely be one of the LMP2 backmarkers. Mexican Rudy Junco will replace Robbie Kerr in the 3rd and final seat of the #25 Delta-ADR Oreca Nissan. As always, the #49 Pecom Racing car is a sleeper - they have shown their muscle with a win at Spa and podium finishes at every other round (Silverstone, Le Mans, and Interlagos). Finally, the #41 Greaves Motorsports Zytek will have the helpful addition of British sportscar ace Tom Kimber-Smith, who will share driving duties with Chris Dyson and Christian Zugel.
The official website of Circuit of the Americas, where you can find extra info on the race and upcoming races at America's premier road course.
In the GTE-Pro class at Interlagos, championship leader Aston Martin Racing had a generally negative experience. The #99 car, driven by Rob Bell and Bruno Senna, ended up with a DNF. The #98 car, with Paul Dalla Lana, Richie Stanaway, and Pedro Lamy at the controls, finished last out of the cars that completed the race, which didn't accurately reflect their pole position and pace throughout the weekend. The #97 car came home in second but was not able to track down the leading Ferrari as expected. Simple mistakes by AMR's driver and the opposition alike lead to a tough race, and at such a pivotal point in the season, Aston Martin needs to score some good finishes. The perennially fast Frenchman Frederic Makowiecki is back on Aston Martin driving duty in the #99 after testing a Honda Super GT500 car in Japan and should help push the car towards the front. Also, Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner need more outright pace to secure a victory in GTE-Pro as the competition from AF Corse and Porsche AG Team Manthey gets progressively tougher. This also may be the #98's last WEC race for the season as car owner Paul Dalla Lana has vocalized that he wants to do some testing on tracks in North America and possibly enter the car in Petit Le Mans this October. Aside from Aston Martin, Porsche needs to bring their two cars home this time without as many dramas as in Sao Paulo. Finally, it seems as though the #71 AF Corse Ferrari has been repaired in time for the COTA race after a massive fire annihilated the car in Brazil. In conclusion, it's anyone's guess who will come up on top in GTE-Pro at COTA, because the competition is stiffer than ever.
In GTE-Am, one car will be leagues over everyone else at Circuit of the Americas: the #95 all-Danish Aston Martin. With Roald Goethe ready to slow things down in the #96 Aston Martin, an increasingly erratic Jack Gerber, and possibly no 3rd pro driver in the #81 8 Star Ferrari, all of the potential rivals seem to be out of the question. And that question is: can the #95 car survive all the way to the finish? It didn't in Interlagos, but what could possibly stop it at COTA, a track as smooth as silk and land where runoff and gravel traps abound? Also, Krohn Racing has recently announced that they may be moving to LMP2 at the beginning of the next year... that is, if Tracy Krohn can fit in the car!
Friday, September 20
7:30 am GATES OPEN
8:00 am–9:00 am Practice #1 – ALMS (All Classes)
9:15 am–10:45 am Free Practice #1 – FIA WEC
11:00 am–11:30 am Driver Fan Forum – ALMS (ALMS Paddock – Near ALMS VIP Club)
11:10 am–11:40 am RACE #1 – LITES – 30 MINUTES
12:40 pm–1:40 pm Practice #2 – ALMS (All Classes)
1:50 pm–2:05 pm Qualifying – ALMS (GTC)
2:10 pm–2:25 pm Qualifying – ALMS (GT)
2:35 pm–2:50 pm Qualifying – ALMS (PC)
2:55 pm–3:10 pm Qualifying – ALMS (P1/P2)
3:25 pm–4:55 pm Free Practice #2 – FIA WEC
5:15 pm–6:00 pm RACE #1 – GT3 CUP – 45 MINUTES
6:30 pm GATES CLOSE
Saturday, September 21
7:30 am GATES OPEN
8:00 am–8:25 am Warm Up – ALMS (All Classes)
8:40 am–9:40 am Free Practice #3 – FIA WEC
10:05 am–10:50 am RACE #2 – LITES – 45 MINUTES
11:00 am–5:00 pm Kids Festival Attractions (Support Paddock)
11:15 am–12:00 pm RACE #2 – GT3 CUP – 45 MINUTES
12:00 pm–1:00 pm Driver Autograph Session – ALMS (Paddock – ALMS Team Transporters)
12:00 pm–12:20 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
12:40 pm–1:00 pm Live Auction – Risi Competizione Ferrari GT Team Transporter (ALMS Paddock)
1:00 pm–1:30 pm DRIVER AUTOGRAPH SESSION – LITES AND GT3 CUP (ALMS PADDOCK – NEAR ALMS VIP CLUB)
1:00 pm–1:25 pm Qualifying – FIA WEC (LMGTE-PRO/LMGTE-AM)
1:35 pm–2:00 pm Qualifying – FIA WEC (LMP1/LMP2)
2:15 pm–2:35 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (On Track)
2:15 pm–2:35 pm Drifting Demonstration by Formula DRIFT (On Track)
3:00 pm–3:30 pm Fan Grid Walk – ALMS (Access from Paddock and Main Grandstand East) – Access closes at 3:20 pm
3:45 pm–6:30 pm Race – American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón (Round 8) – 2 Hours 45 Minutes
6:30 pm–6:50 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
7:30 pm GATES CLOSE
Sunday, September 22
8:00 am GATES OPEN
8:30 am–9:40 am Pit Walk – FIA WEC (Pit Lane – Access from Paddock) – Access closes at 9:30 am
9:00 am–9:30 am Driver Autograph Session – FIA WEC (Pit Lane – Access from Paddock)
9:30 am–9:45 am Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (On Track)
9:30 am–9:45 am Drifting Demonstration by Formula DRIFT (On Track)
10:30 am–10:50 am Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
11:00 am–5:00 pm Kids Festival Attractions (Support Paddock)
11:00 am–5:00 pm Race – FIA WEC – 6 Hours
2:00 pm–2:20 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
5:05 pm–5:35 pm Public Track Walk (Front Straight Only – Access from Main Grandstand East and West Sides)
6:00 pm GATES CLOSE
TICKETS (still available!!!)
AUSTIN, TEXAS HOTELS/ACCOMMODATIONS
HOW TO GET TO Circuit of the Americas
LAP OF Circuit of the Americas
ANDY BLACKMORE'S SPOTTER GUIDES!
FRC PREDICTIONS COMPETITION
If you happen to be attending the International Sports Car Weekend, I'll be staying in the Omni Hotel Downtown and will be updating Twitter on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (linked above) every hour or so with my approximate location. Use #findbeetle. It would be lovely to have a chat with fellow 10 Tenths members.
Apologies if this thread came a bit early. But it gives American sportscar fans something to talk about other than the USCR.
Cheers, and bring on the COTA monster!!