The 2017 World Endurance Championship kicked off on Easter Sunday via the Six Hours of Silverstone. WEC is the series with the Le Mans 24 Hours as its headline act, but there are eight other rounds, each a six-hour race, that all help decide the overall title.
You’d think a race in Northamptonshire in mid-April would mean fairly moody weather. You’d be correct to think so. Brooding clouds filled the sky for Sunday’s race, and while only a small amount of rain actually fell, it did so at a crucial time, helping decide the race outcome.
A Toyota speared off into the gravel, for starters, helping ensure the race podium had two Porsches on it. Just five LMP1 prototypes were on the grid in our first glimpse of post-Audi WEC. And while a Toyota still took overall victory, Porsche ought to be pleased with how close its cars got, especially when the cars of its Japanese rival streaked firmly ahead in the early stages of the race.
The lengthy safety car period after the Toyota’s crash also helped Ford’s number 67 GT to class victory ahead of Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin, while costing its partner car, the number 66 GT, both a victory and a podium place. Mixed feelings in the Ford garage, then.
On the whole, though, there is great team spirit across the grid. There’s no sense of angry, resentful rivalries like you might find in other top tier motorsport series. There’s a friendlier, more approachable paddock, one that’s easy to roam around. Getting right in front of the podium at the end of the race is a doddle, as is squeezing onto the grid for a look around the cars before race start.
In short, here’s a day out where you get half a day of racing, close access to cars and drivers and action throughout the six hours. Toyota’s overtake for race victory only happened in the final half hour of the race, while things were even more dramatic further down the grid.
Want to see how much fun WEC is? Click through for our gallery of images from the Six Hours of Silverstone. And then get booking your tickets for Spa, the Nürburgring, or Le Mans. Or perhaps one of WEC’s further flung rounds…
Images: Drew Gibson