Lone Star Le Mans returns to Austin with a festival of racing for all
Photo: WEC/Adrenal Media
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05.09.2017 - 18h15

Lone Star Le Mans returns to Austin with a festival of racing for all

The entry list has been revealed by the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for its fifth running of Lone Star Le Mans, the celebration of Le Mans-style endurance racing in the Lone Star State of Texas.

The entry list has been revealed by the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for its fifth running of Lone Star Le Mans, the celebration of Le Mans-style endurance racing in the Lone Star State of Texas.

The impressive Circuit of The Americas in south eastern Austin will play host to a festival of motorsport between 14-16 September, which not only includes the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas but also incredible track action from World Series Formula V8 3.5, Ferrari Challenge North America and F4 USA Championship.

The 26 cars on the WEC grid will be the first from the world championship not to race into the night in Austin since 2013.  The condensed schedule offers non-stop action to fans of the highest levels of endurance racing, the sight of 50+ Ferraris on track, Hollywood stars transferring their attentions to the world of motor sport, and plenty of local young drivers anxious to demonstrate their talents to the assembled manufacturers and top teams.

Fans of all ages will enjoy unrivalled access to teams and drivers, great views from each of COTA's iconic grandstands, an open paddock, and grid walks. Every guest is invited to be on the grid before the start of the six-hour WEC main event.

1000+ BPH missiles going head-to-head

For the second 2017 race in the Americas, just two weeks after the 6 Hours of Mexico, fans will be able to see Porsche and Toyota go head to head in LMP1 with the North American track likely to suit the Toyotas better than the high altitude Mexican circuit.

Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard won at COTA last year and have done so three times this year, together with 2017 team mate Earl Bamber.  Will they do it again or will Toyota Gazoo Racing find the sweet spot again following the team’s great start to the season?

The top-class driver line-up in the two Porsche 919s and two Toyota TS050 HYBRIDs will be displaying their 1000+bhp super-sophisticated, LMP1 prototypes to the full for the one and only time on North American soil this year.  

Nothing to choose between LMGTE entries in nose-to-tail racing

The US fans can anticipate another sensational battle for supremacy in the LMGTE classes as the world’s most popular and luxurious marques come together once again.

Following the race in Mexico, Ferrari now holds a 9-point lead over Ford in the battle for the GT FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship with Aston Martin and Porsche also within touching distance of the lead.  Ford and Ferrari will undoubtedly go head to head again, as in decades gone by, and the famous Blue Oval will, of course, be keen to be at peak performance in front of its ‘home’ crowd.

Aston Martin Racing won at COTA last year, as they did in Mexico two weeks ago, but Porsche’s 911 RSR continues to challenge and the German marque has a strong history in North American racing competition.  Don’t count it out!

LMP2 battle sure to thrill

There will be 9 entries in this super-competitive class, and the only American driver in the field – Californian Gustavo Menezes, from the No.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 – will be looking to repeat his 2016 COTA victory.  The increased power and improved aerodynamics in 2017 have offered up some nail-biting battles in this category, and fans can’t afford to move their attention from LMP2 throughout the whole race.

After taking its first LMP2 victory, the Vaillante Rebellion team will be hoping to repeat the feat, and names such as Piquet, Prost and Senna will be very familiar to US racing aficionados. The LMP2 championship leading Jackie Chan DC Racing team had a uncharacteristically difficult weekend in Mexico, and will be looking to bounce back in the USA.

With no changes throughout the entry list to that seen in Mexico, there is stability across the field and the drivers are all beginning to know and anticipate each other’s moves, creating ever more exciting racing.  Will CEFC Manor TRS Racing’s Roberto Gonzalez be able to celebrate International Mexican Day on Saturday?  Only time will tell.

Added focus for Dempsey-Proton Racing

In LMGTE Am the battle for the top of the points’ tables goes on, with Patrick Dempsey-owned Dempsey Proton Racing (No.77 Porsche 911 RSR) and its drivers Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst holding a 10-point lead over the super-experienced Aston Martin Racing trio.  That line-up includes Canadian Paul Dalla Lana who has taken a class win at Circuit of the Americas twice in the last three years.  

The scene is almost set, and the drivers and teams that make up entry list for one of the FIA’s most popular championships are ready to return to Austin for further adventures.  

The action will begin on Thursday 14 September with two free practice sessions on the 5.513km / 3.427mile motor racing facility Austin, Central Texas.  A third and final practice will take place ahead of qualifying on Friday 15 September, and the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas will run from 12 noon to 6:00 pm on Saturday 16 September.

The full timetable can be found HERE

 

 

Fiona MILLER