The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship goes global this weekend as the teams head outside of Europe for the first of the ‘flyaway’ races.
Saturday’s ‘6 Hours of Mexico’ takes place at the revamped Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the heart of Mexico City and promises to provide the thrills and spills of a WEC event for motorsport fans who so enjoyed Formula 1’s return to Mexico at the same circuit last year.
The location of the Mexico City circuit will provide a stark contrast to the last race at Germany’s Nürburgring, as it is in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. The circuit also sits 2,250 metres above sea level, which will have an effect on the race cars’ performance.
George Howard-Chapell, WEC Team Principal:
We’ve completed some useful testing between the Nürburgring race and getting the cars into the air freight for Mexico. The circuit itself is an unknown but we are ready for that. As this is our first season in the WEC, Mexico is a big challenge for us. It is the first race outside of Europe so the first time we have had to get everything packed into the freight cases. There has been a lot of organising to do. It’s not just a case of getting everything onto our transporters as is the case in Europe. Everything has to be inventoried and everything has its place. We’re ready to go though and we are targeting the podium and of course hoping for a win!
The flyaway part of the WEC season is a logistical challenge for all of the teams. The WEC cars and equipment are air freighted from Frankfurt in Germany to Mexico, before going up in the air again to Austin in the U.S., and then Fuji in Japan. From there, the entire WEC infrastructure takes to the sea for the trip to Shanghai, China, before being air freighted to Bahrain for the final race of the season in November.
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team travels with approximately 20 tonnes of equipment in addition to the two Ford GT race cars. The sea freight is made up of two 12-metre containers, which also carry the two Ford GTs. The air freight is split into six huge pallets and the race cars are loaded separately, travelling first class all the way!
The drivers of the #66 Ford GT, Germany’s Stefan Mücke and France’s Olivier Pla, will be out to retain the lead in the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers, which they have held since Le Mans. Mücke warmed up for Mexico by turning his hand to racing a rather different Ford: a Ford Capri RS3100 in the AVD-Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
The Capri racing went really well. I finished in second place in the Saturday race despite being up against some very strong competition. Unfortunately I had a technical problem on the Sunday but what a great event! Now my focus turns to Mexico. It will be my first time in the country and a new track for most of the drivers so it is an exciting prospect. We want to collect as many points as possible so we are targeting the win.
After taking a strong second place at Spa, Belgium, in May, the #67 Ford GT of British racers Andy Priaulx, Marino Franchitti and Harry Tincknell has had a run of bad luck. Priaulx is hoping all of that is behind them now.
I’m hoping that this new phase of the season provides us with more reward for our efforts. We had a good test at Snetterton recently. Both Harry (Tincknell) and I had a car each so we got a lot of work done. There is a big break between these two races so it was good to be able to get behind the wheel and blow the cobwebs away. I’ve raced in Mexico a few times and it is always an interesting experience. I haven’t raced at this track but the feedback from the guys who have is that it is awesome. It looked mega when F1 went there so I can’t wait to get stuck in and hopefully win a race pretty soon!
The track action in Mexico starts at 09:00 local time (16:00 CET) on Thursday, Sept.1, with qualifying following on Friday, Sept. 2, at 14:10 (21:10 CET). The 6 Hours of Mexico will get underway this Saturday, Sept. 3, at 13:30 (20:30 CET).
Ford Press Release