Unleash the Scotsman!…

September 16, 2013

Unleash the Scotsman!…

September 16, 2013

McNish_helmet…And the Italians, Germans, Danes, Brits, Swiss, French, Portuguese, Mexicans, Americans, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Canadian, Japanese, Russian, Argentine, Austrian, Finn, Swedish, Thai, Kiwi and South African drivers, too.

As the cars and stars of the FIA World Endurance Championship arrive at the Circuit of The Americas for the fifth stop of the 2013 WEC season, the paddock will fill with the sounds of exotic cars and the voices of drivers and crews from around the world.

By definition, Endurance Sportscar racing at places like the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a total test of man and machine. The rules provide for a great range of cars and technologies and the drivers and teams have become so strong that they turn each event, including the six-hour race here Sunday at COTA, into an aggressive sprint.

While the names of the car manufacturers are familiar; Audi, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette, Lotus and Aston Martin, the technologies in WEC prototypes most certainly are not.

Audi has claimed success with its latest hybrid prototype, the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, featuring a turbocharged diesel engine linked to a flywheel hybrid energy recovery system and front mounted electric wheel motors.

Its archrival, Toyota, counters with a Toyota TS030 Hybrid incorporating a V8 gasoline powered engine mated to an ultra-capacitor hybrid.

Developing and promoting new technologies for future consumer vehicles draws the latest innovations from the companies’ respective R&D centers, designers, engineers and suppliers. New rules for 2014 will limit energy and even further encourage new technologies.

The Rebellion Toyota team, winners of the 2012 ALMS Petit Le Mans race, relies on a more conventional Toyota V8. The GT class entries from Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari and Lotus are more closely aligned to their latest production counterparts.

The drivers represent an ultra-competitive mix that includes Audi’s current Le Mans champions Allan McNish of Scotland (pictured on the cover) with “Mr. Le Mans,” nine-time winner Tom Kristensen of Denmark and France’s Loic Duval.

Toyota’s line-up includes Britain’s Anthony Davidson, Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi and Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin aboard the factory hybrid. F1 refugee Nick Heidfeld of Germany co-drives the Rebellion Toyota.

Italy’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni co-drive the AF Corse Ferrari, while Germany’s Joerg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb lead the factory Porsche charge.

The WEC grid even includes a Prost and a Senna with Nicolas Prost aboard the Rebellion Toyota and Brazil’s Bruno Senna in an Aston Martin.

A pair of American-based Ferrari teams, Texan Tracy Krohn and the Florida-based 8 Star team for Venezuela’s Enzo Potolicchio, consider this a home race.

Americans Kevin Weeda and former ALMS champion Chris Dyson are entered in the P2 prototype class, as are Mexico’s Ricardo Gonzalez and Rudy Junco. Also racing closer to home will be American driver Gunnar Jeannette of Utah and Canada’s Paul Dalla Lana.

With an international field, an outstanding new venue, FIA and Le Mans organizers teamed to oversee everything and “World” and “Championship” in the title – that means competition in any language.

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