It is normal for the English to make jokes about the weather. It is a national obsession, to the point that we’re even suggesting that the snow following a very wet Silverstone on Friday and Saturday was actually Scottish weather.
It isn’t the first time that we have had such inclement weather at this time of year, but it would be the first time that a session of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) was cancelled due to snow. Watching the cars tiptoe their way around Copse corner, normally a 140 mph+ right-hander at Silverstone, was a surreal experience.
After a few spinners brought out the red flags, the Race Director made the decision not to pull them back in and the photographers joined the Marshals in the numerous hiding places from the weather around the circuit. Having gathered under the grandstand at Copse for a while, race control then decided to start the Porsche Carrera Cup race scheduled for late on Saturday using Championship places rather than run the qualifying.
A lot is said by circuit commentators about Marshals, they always get a thank you and you will often see drivers waving their thanks on slowing down laps. They do what they do because they enjoy it and when you enjoy something the weather isn’t always that important. Still, do spare a though for the Marshals who, unlike me, can’t wander back to the press room to hunt down a cup of tea. They just stick around until the racing is done, come rain, sun or even snow. The photo is of Anne doing her “You Killed Kenny” impression.
The good news about changeable weather is that it plays about with the light. There is a long explanation about dust particles being removed, the refraction of light through water and all kinds of other factors, but the bottom line is when the weather changes so does the light. Catch the light at the right moment and the results can be inspiring, which helps when you are getting frustrated at the sponsorship signage around the circuit.
The sponsorship, in part, makes the event happen and so the sponsors are a vital part of the whole package. They do their homework, too, and ensure that their signs are in all the right places. The MotorSport.com signs for example may seem to be in an odd spot at the end of the straight where there is no grandstand to see them; they are, however, in the background of hundreds of European Le Mans Series, WEC and Porsche photos. The keen observes will have noticed that it is not raining in this photo. Something of a rare moment on Friday and Saturday.
And so to the races...
Porsche Carrera Cup was two wins for Dan Cammish, followed in second and third on both occasions by Dino Zamparelli and Charlie Eastwood respectively. Despite the same result in both races, don’t think they were boring – far from it. Saturday’s race was a journey into the unknown; qualifying had been cancelled and Sunday’s race was held under clear blue skies and sunshine. The Redline Racing teammates spent lots of time in close company and there was even a spot of “rubbing is racing” in a few of the corners. At least the results on the track were the actual results.
European Le Mans Series – Where to start? LMP2 and the overall podium went to the #38 G-Drive Racing car driven by Dolan, Tincknell and van der Garde who were followed home by #32 SMP Racing BR01 and #22 S024! Ligier. The LPM3 class has #2 United Autosport car taking the win, followed by their sister #3 car in second and #9 Graff car in third. A total Ligier JS P2 – Nissan engine lockout on the podium. So far so good. You win on the track and you are the winner.
GTE – The class win, on track, went the way of the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari GTE, right up until the point that it was excluded from the results when it failed a post-race technical inspection. The win therefore went to the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage which was then followed home by Richie Stanaway in the #96 Aston Martin. I say “followed”, it limped across the line on three wheels, following contact with the #56 AT Racing Ferrari, who managed to bring their car home fourth. The Stewards, however viewed it differently, and handed out a five-minute time penalty, which reversed the positions between #99 and #56. With the #66 car being excluded, the final, final result is #99 Aston Martin, #56 Ferrari and then the #96 Aston Martin.
World Endurance Championship – The winner on the day was the pole-sitting #7 Audi driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, followed home by the #2 Porsche driven by Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb. However, when Bernard Cottrell (Race Director) tweeted that he was just off to get “Chinese for the Troops” on Sunday evening, something was up. Sure enough the news breaks that the plank under the #7 Audi was worn and the car had been excluded from the results, promoting Porsche to the top step of the podium. Come Monday morning and a statement is released by the Audi team saying:
“Audi Sport Team Joest has appealed against the exclusion of winners Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer. Hence, the result of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season opener remains provisional.”
“The Stewards of the Meeting received a report from the Technical Delegate explaining that the thickness of the front skid block of car no. 7 doesn’t comply with article 3.5.6 a3 of the LMP1 Technical Regulations. Audi Sport Team Joest has appealed the decision to exclude the number 7 car from the results. Hence the race result will depend on the decision of a sport tribunal.”
And that was just the first WEC weekend. Roll on Spa