The 2013 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) came to a thrilling conclusion on 30 November at the Bahrain International Circuit when the Toyota TSO30 no 8 outpaced the Audi R18 e-tron quattro no 1 by just over a minute to claim the final race of the season. While Toyota’s victory upset the formbook, it was Audi who sealed the coveted LMP1 Manufacturers' World Championship after defeating their main rivals in no fewer than six rounds of a compelling 2013 season.
The eighth and final round of the season witnessed a contest between 16 teams where the 28 competing cars propelled the desert dust into the night in their bid to secure a hard-fought win. It was a fitting finale to a captivating season that delivered feats of outstanding performance, speed and skill across four continents.
Constructed in the hostile desert environment of Sakhir, the Bahrain track lies entirely on sand, a fearsome adversary when the wind blows millions of tiny grains onto the sleek asphalt surface. This phenomenon renders the surface mercilessly slippery, creating an additional obstacle for competitors to overcome. Demanding conditions on a bold track design make the drivers’ impressive performances all the more commendable.
Pushing the limits
Great inventions have always influenced the course of history, sometimes even defining entire eras. The emergence of the automobile marked one of the most important developments in man’s everyday life. It revolutionised transportation and led to profound social, economic and cultural changes, the development of new industries, infrastructure and technology which, in turn, fostered the opportunity for this ascendant symbol of modernity to evolve.
The decision to race motorcars led to the creation of a sporting and social pastime that has proven to be the catalyst for the motor industry to develop ideas and solutions. This philosophy remains to the fore today, ably demonstrated by the FIA WEC’s future vision for endurance racing: “From now on competitors will have to build their cars with respect to a charter promoting energy-saving technologies. This change is very positive for the world of motorsport and a real challenge that we can’t wait to take up,” explains Antonio Cazzago, the manager of Pecom Racing.
In 1894, the Concours de voitures sans chevaux (Competition for Horseless Carriages) between Paris and Rouen constituted the very first motorised competition, setting seven steam cars and 14 petroleum-powered vehicles in opposition over a 126 km route. The world’s first official car race was recorded one year later. The Paris-Bordeaux-Paris challenge is also remarkable for introducing a new prototype vehicle mounted on pneumatic tyres. No one else at the time believed that air-filled rubber tyres could survive such a long distance. The doubters were proved wrong. This inspired vision became reality, revolutionizing the development of the car.
In 1950, as car racing intensified in terms of professionalism and public interest, the FIA launched a World Constructors’ Championship, open to international teams and consisting of six automobile Grand Prix held in Europe, and one in the United States - the Indianapolis 500. In their quest for perfection, constructors continually sought to make improvements: from tyre development, to aerodynamics and bodywork, to construction materials. Breaking speed records was always an enticing goal.
Pushing perceived boundaries and shaping the future remains the core credo of both the motor sport world and high-end watch making.
Towards the end of a race punctuated by dramatic incidents and retirements by teams normally renowned for consistency, the Toyota LMP1 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin sealed first place, beating its immediate Audi opponents André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler by one lap, and leaving third place to the LMP2 Morgan Nissan n°24 from OAK Racing, driven by Olivier Pla, Alex Brundle and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Toyota’s victory was not enough to deny Audi the LMP1 Manufacturers' World Championship. Audi has displayed unwavering determination during the 6-month competition and was rewarded with the championship trophy and a TUDOR Grantour Chrono Fly-Back at the official prize giving held in Paris on 7 December. This TUDOR chronograph is in perfect harmony with the spirit of endurance racing: encased in steel, its dial features TUDOR’s striking black and red colours. Fitted with a fly-back function that resets the stopwatch to zero and instantaneously launches a second measurement of time with the simple push of a button, this timepiece has been conceived as the instrument of performance.
Aside from the Manufacturers' world title, the other major prize settled in Bahrain was the Drivers' World Championship - claimed by Audi drivers Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval.
The 2014 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship will start on 20 April at Silverstone, United Kingdom, and comprise eight international rounds uniting TUDOR and the FIA WEC for another fantastic year, once again celebrating style and performance.