World Endurance Championship

Porsche has done well in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) since its inception in 2012, mainly due to its two wins at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2015 and 2016. The WEC is for sportscars which includes prototypes like the Porsche 919 and the Audi R18, and GT cars like the Porsche 911 RSR, the Corvette C7-R, and the Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

Below is a write up of the 2016 WEC round held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

A small group of five Roadrunner Region members ventured out to Austin and the Circuit of the Americas for an extended weekend in September to enjoy the excitement of endurance racing, and the heat and humidity of late summer in south central Texas. Boy it was hot, and humid! Despite the headline event, the sixth round of the World Endurance Championship, starting at 5pm and running through to 11pm, the track temperature was in triple digits the entire day and night.

Setting off on Thursday, the Roadrunners—Harry Season (997 Turbo S), Bill Muir (993 C2S), Mike Rothman (997 Carrera S), Jules Doty (964 C4), and Phil Ganderton (981 GT4)—arrived at the track on Friday afternoon to see the qualifying for all races, including the IMSA Challenge races being held in conjunction with the FIA WEC race.

Saturday was a very long day, arriving at the track in the morning to already searing heat and uncomfortable humidity. However, plenty of water and the sounds and smells of GT racing soon had everyone absorbed and unconcerned. COTA, as it’s referred to, is an amazing track, undulating throughout its 3.4 miles and 20 turns, providing many different viewing experiences but all with one common theme: incredible sounds of cars being pushed to their limits for hours on end. One highlight of COTA is the view from atop the 25 story Observation Tower.

Porsche is leading the WEC competition for both drivers and manufacturers in the LMP class, but unfortunately falling behind in the GT classes, being out powered by the Ford GTs, Ferraris and Aston Martins. Still, in the premier class, the race is always heated between the Porsches and the Audis, and it was no different at COTA. The Audi R18s were clearly faster in the very hot early hours of the race, but as the sun set and temperatures fell slightly, the Porsches and Toyotas gained ground. Thanks to a very well timed yellow flag pit stop, and a subsequent shunt of the leading Audi by a Ford GT, the no.1 Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, and Brendon Hartley led the field home to take another win. As was the case with Porsche’s last minute win at Le Mans this year, COTA proved that endurance racing is long, hard, and unpredictable. A Porsche 911 RSR came second in the GTE-Am class, but otherwise Porsche’s GT cars didn’t podium. Fortunately, they faired better in the IMSA races with Porsche 991 RSRs taking first and second in the GTLM class.