The FIA World Endurance Championship WEC enters its fourth season in 2015 and is stronger than ever before. Four automobile manufacturers in the LMP1 class, refined regulations and a revised calendar improve the sport still further.
Exactly five World Championship titles exist in the world of automobile racing. The world governing body FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) awards these for touring cars, single seaters, rally cars, rallycross vehicles and sportscars. The FIA World Endurance Championship WEC was established in 2012; eight races on three continents are held and represent 66 hours of high performance endurance racing annually. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans alone, teams complete without interruption a distance equating to the sum of almost every Formula 1 race in an entire season. Technology which prevails at Le Mans combines efficiency and durability in a unique manner. Consequently, this racing category is particularly valuable for the technology transfer, which Audi practices consistently between motorsport and large-scale production.
The competition will be even tougher during the 2015 season. For the first time, four automobile manufacturers Audi, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota compete in the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. There is also stiff competition in the three smaller classes.
An ‘Equivalence of Technology’ exists to balance the efficiency of the various technological concepts used by the manufacturers. This formula defines, among other things, the quantity of fossil energy (meaning petrol or diesel fuel) and hybrid energy that every racecar can use per lap. Up to and including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June the energy allowance from last year is valid.
Limitations in other areas are new this season to reduce costs. Every racecar in the LMP1 hybrid category can only use five engines in the eight events. Any team violating this rule is handed a 3-minute time penalty for 6-hour races or a 5-minute penalty for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The number of tires is also restricted at each event. Four sets are allowed in free practice, for qualifying and the race a total of six sets (eight for the races in Bahrain and Shanghai).
The number of team personnel is also limited. At 6-hour races, teams fielding two racecars can nominate 65 operationally deployed individuals. A compensation rule for driver weight should ensure more parity on track. Teams, whose drivers weigh less than 80 kilograms on average must compensate for this value by adding ballast weight to the respective racecar. This year, a limitation of test days, subject to the type of test, also comes into force.
Another innovation affects qualifying. Two drivers per car team are nominated to participate in qualifying. The fastest lap recorded by each driver in this session is taken and an average lap time determined from these two laps, which in turn defines the car’s grid position for the race. Previously, the second fastest time as well as the quickest lap time per driver were used to determine this average time.
The FIA World Endurance Championship WEC competes again in Asia, Europe and North America in 2015. The season starts on April 12, like last year at Silverstone (Great Britain), Spa (Belgium) plays host on May 2. The 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) marks the season highlight on June 13 and 14. Nürburgring is on the FIA WEC calendar for the first time on August 30. A great German endurance race tradition developed between 1953 and 1991. The overseas season begins on September 19. The only North American round on the calendar takes place in Austin (Texas), before the journey takes the teams to Fuji (Japan) on October 11. In Shanghai (China), Audi races in its biggest automobile market on November 1, before the finale is held three weeks later in Bahrain.