Long period of testing and preparation has ended, now it's time to proceed to racing. The grid for Silverstone opening round is set.
After the months of preparations and testing, the final grid for the opening round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship has now been made public with just one week to go. The 6 Hours of Silverstone will take place at the home of British motor racing on the 12-14 April, with the overall winner being the latest recipients of the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy, with their names being added to a roll of honour that stretches back to 1905.
The truly international grid for the 6 Hours of Silverstone features 31 cars run by 21 teams representing 11 different countries, with 89 drivers taking part in the race representing 22 countries across six continents. At Silverstone all eyes will be on the British teams – Strakka Racing, Delta-ADR, Greaves Motorsport, Aston Martin Racing – and on the 15 British drivers racing across the four classes.
The LMP1 Privateer battle will be no less fierce than the one between Toyota and Audi as Swiss team Rebellion defend their hard won title against the all British entry from Strakka Racing. Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani and Nick Heidfeld will pilot the nr12 Rebellion Lola Toyota and the nr13 car will be driven by Andrea Bellichi, Mathias Beche and Cong Fu Cheng. Strakka’s driver line up is unchanged from last season with Danny Watts, Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane looking to build on the performances of last season.
The LMP2 grid boasts the biggest entry and 2013 promises to be another great year for the class. Despite the withdrawal of HVM Status GP, Gulf Racing Middle East and reigning champions Starworks Motorsport there are still 10 cars entered for Silverstone, including UK teams Delta-ADR and Greaves Motorsport. It will a hard call to who will be standing on the top step of the LMP2 podium on Sunday afternoon. Race winner John Martin switches to the nr26 G Drive Oreca Nissan to drive alongside Roman Rusinov and Mike Conway, while his place in the nr25 Delta ADR Oreca is taken by Britain’s James Walker, who will race with Antonio Pizzonia and Tor Graves.
Race winners Pecom Racing also have an unchanged line up with Nicolas Minassian joining Pierre Kaffer and Luis Perez Companc. Oak Racing will field three cars in the class with Alex Brundle joining Olivier Pla and David Heinemeir Hansson in the nr24 Morgan-Nissan. Lotus is also racing its brand new T128 with the nr31 car boasting a strong driver line up of Christophe Bouchut, VitantonioLiuzzi and Kevin Weeda. Greaves Motorsport has signed Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kimber-Smith to race alongside Americans Chris Dyson and Michael Marsal in the team’s Zytek-Nissan.
Ferrari are the current champions and they are fielding a two car defence of their titles. Opposition comes from two newly launched Porsche 911 RSR, run by Team Manthey, and a pair of Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8s, who will be hoping for a home win as the manufacturer celebrates its 100th birthday in 2013.
Drivers in this class read like a who’s who of racing drivers. Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella will drive the nr51 Ferrari; with Japanese star Kamui Kobayashi joining Finland’s Toni Vilander in the nr71 car. The Porsche driver line up is no less than impressive and boasts six stars of endurance racing – Timo Bernhard, Patrick Pilet and Jorg Bergmeister in the nr91 911 and Romain Dumas, Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb in the nr92 car. The Aston Martin driver crews complete the star driver line up in the LMGTE Pro class with Bruno Senna joining last season race winners Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke in the nr97 Vantage and Pedro Lamy and Fred Makowiecki racing with Canadian Paul Dalla Anna in the nr99 Aston Martin.
The LMGTE Am grid is made up of eight entries, with reigning champions Larbre Competition fielding a single Chevrolet Corvette against Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin.
Patrick Bornhauser, Fernando Rees and Julien Canal will make up an unchanged driver line up at Labre, with main rivals Proton Competition also fielding an unaltered crew with Christian Ried, Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda in the Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.
Aston Martin Racing are also fielding two LMGTE Am cars to race alongside their two Pro spec entries. An all Danish crew of Allan Simonsen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen will race the nr 95 Aston, while the nr96 car will be raced by Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall and Jamie Campbell-Walter, the only driver in the field who has his name engraved on the Tourist Trophy after his win in 2010 in the GT1 spec Nissan GT-R.
French endurance racing stalwarts IMSA Performance Matmut move onto the world stage with their distinctive red, white and blue liveried Porsche with an all French crew of Raymond Narac, Christophe Bourret and Jean-Karl Vernay.
The 6 Hours of Silverstone weekend features the opening round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, round 1 of the 2013 European Le Mans Series and the second weekend on the 2013 FIA European Formula 3 Series calendar.