On Saturday 19 September the Circuit of The Americas (CoTA) in Texas will host the first of four events outside Europe for the 2015 World Endurance Championship. The six hour North American race will be the third event at the track near Austin and the second time the Lone Star Le Mans festival of racing has been run in partnership with the Tudor United Sports Car Championship.
In total 31 cars, representing 10 different nations, and 86 drivers, from 19 countries across the globe, will be competing at Lone Star Le Mans on 17-19 September. The lineup will include two cars, the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier-HPDs, and six drivers representing the USA, proudly displaying the Stars and Stripes for their home race.
In addition there is one driver from Canada, one from Texas’ near neighbour, Mexico and, with no race this year in South America, the claim can be made that the race represents the whole of the Americas; two drivers from Brazil and one from Colombia are on the grid.
American drivers feature in the LMP2 and LMGTE Am classes with Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty all racing for the Tequila Patron-sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports squad in LMP2. In LMGTE Am Hollywood actor-turned-race-driver Patrick Dempsey and Porsche works driver Patrick Long have been enjoying success on the world stage after finishing on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The two Patricks will be hoping for more success closer to home alongside team mate Marco Seefried.
In addition to the drivers from the USA, Canadian Paul Dalla Lana has been enjoying a successful season in the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage with two class wins at Silverstone in the UK and at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium with his teammates Pedro Lamy from Portugal and Austria’s Mathias Lauda.
Mexico’s Ricardo Gonzalez has returned to the World Endurance Championship in 2015 and the former winner of the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is racing in the no28 G-Drive Ligier with Colombian Gustavo Yacaman and Brazil’s ‘Pipo’ Derani. The Latin American trio have already tasted success with a win in Belgium in May.
The top LMP1 class will feature nine cars and 26 drivers, with manufacturers Audi, Porsche and Toyota once again fielding a pair of entries each. After winning at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and last time out, in Germany, Porsche will be the team to beat in Texas; it currently holds a 33-point lead over Audi in the World Manufacturer’s Championship.
The crew of the no17 919 Hybrid, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, took their first win for Porsche in Germany and Webber’s F1 success at COTA will certainly put them in a good position on Saturday 19 September. However the three drivers are currently 17 points behind Audi’s Benoit Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler in the World Driver’s Championship after the 2012 World Champions scored overall wins at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps earlier in the season.
Audi’s driver line-up also features the only South American on the LMP1 grid as Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi is joined by former World Champion Loic Duval and Britain’s Oliver Jarvis in the no8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
Reigning World Champion Toyota has been trailing the two German manufacturers in 2015 but is hoping that the first race outside Europe will see a change in its fortunes. Former Indycar racer Mike Conway is part of the no2 TS040 HYBRID crew alongside former F1 drivers Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin. The no1 car is crewed by current World Driver Champions Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson, who are joined by Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima.
The LMP1 grid is completed by the privateer teams with Austrian team Bykolles, buoyed by its win in Germany, once again taking on the pair of successful Rebellion Racing R-Ones.
LMP2 features eight entries, including two for Russia’s G-Drive Racing, two for US team ESM, one for reigning European Le Mans Series champions Signatech Alpine, Britain’s Strakka Racing, Swiss team SARD Morand and one for Hong Kong based KCMG, who have won the last two WEC races at Le Mans and Nürburgring. At COTA the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning crew is reunited as Nicolas Lapierre takes the third seat alongside Richard Bradley and Matt Howson due to Nick Tandy's Porsche GTE commitments.
There are seven entries in LMGTE Pro with the works teams from Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin competing against each other for the Manufacturers' GT world title. In 2016 they will be joined by Ford which is to return to the world stage with the new Ford GT. Last year's World Champion, Ferrari, is facing a strong challenge from Porsche after the German Manthey team won at home at the Nürburgring last month. Ferrari still hold a 24 point lead and will be hoping for a return to winning ways in Texas. Aston Martin Racing's Stefan Mucke will miss his first WEC round ever as he has a clashing commitment for the manufacturer in Germany, and Britain's Jonathan Adam will share the no97 with Darren Turner.
In LMGTE Am the Aston Martins, Porsches and Ferraris are joined by the Chevrolet Corvette C7 run by French team Larbre Competition. Russia’s SMP Racing and Italy’s AF Corse run the two Am-spec Ferrari 458s with Aston Martin Racing also fielding a pair Vantage V8s. The two Porsche 911s are run by Germany’s Proton Competition, one under the Dempsey Racing banner for Patrick Dempsey and the other for Abu-Dhabi Racing with Khaled Al Qubaisi joined by Porsche works driver and 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans champion, Earl Bamber from New Zealand, and Germany’s Christian Ried.
The 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas will take place on Saturday 19 September and is round 5 of the 2015 World Endurance Championship.
Credit FIA Press release