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COTA Pre-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ pre-race notebook for WEC 6H COTA…

Photo: Adrenal Media/WEC

***All 26 cars are set for this afternoon’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas, the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season, in hot and humid conditions. Click Here for the starting grid.

***The WEC’s shift to a winter calendar has caught manufacturers such as Ford by “surprise” in that its program commitments are typically made in calendar years. Ford’s contract is currently through the 2019 season, which is now split between the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ and the 2019/20 season.

“That’s a great question because I think we need to see the year after to figure out,” Ford Executive Vice President and President of Ford North America Raj Nair told Sportscar365. “It’s caught us a little bit by surprise. Certainly Le Mans in 2019, we want to be there.”

***Nair revealed the Ford GT was limited to roughly 375 horsepower in Mexico City, due to the altitude compensation for turbocharged cars. The road car, by comparison, produces 647 horsepower.

***FIA World Endurance Championship boss Gerard Neveu smashed media reports indicating that “upgraded” LMP2 cars would be permitted in LMP1 next season, stressing that “nothing’s changed” with the technical regulations for LMP1 non-hybrid. “Sometimes you can find people who consider their own dream as the best solution,” he said.

***Neveu said he’s received constructive feedback from competitors on the changes for the future. “The very positive thing I can see after Mexico is number of very constructive meetings I’ve had with manufacturers, privateers, potential new entrants in the championship,” he said. “My phone [has rung] more in the last two weeks than since the beginning of the year.”

***Paddock rumors indicating that FIA Endurance Committee President Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones could be retiring at the end of the year have yet to be confirmed. When asked by Sportscar365, Neveu said he has no information. Owen-Jones, the former Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal, who also raced professionally, has been at the helm of the Endurance Committee since its formation in 2012.

***Porsche will build brand-new cars for its run of six customer mid-engined 911 RSRs next year, according to Marco Ujhasi, the Director of GT Factory Motorsports. Its current cars run by Manthey and CORE autosport will be replaced based on runtime. 

***Earl Bamber is set to take part in next weekend’s Blancpain GT Series Asia round in Shanghai, in a LKM-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R with Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama driver Will Hardeman. Bamber said he’s “90 percent” sure that he and his brother, Will, plus Hardeman will compete in the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series season, also in a GT3-spec Porsche.

***BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt has admitted the WEC’s ‘Super Season’ schedule creates a challenge for the German manufacturer’s entry into the GTE-Pro class next year. “With only one race to properly [prepare] before Le Mans is definitely a challenge,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ll have to see. We have to deal with it.”

***Marquardt has essentially ruled out having its new WEC operation, BMW Team MTEK, enter the Rolex 24 at Daytona or Twelve Hours of Sebring next year to provide the DTM squad endurance racing experience prior to Le Mans, admitting it would likely “disturb” their efforts more than help.

***A decision on BMW’s 2018 IMSA team partner will come by next month’s Motul Petit Le Mans at the latest, he said.

***U.S. viewers can watch the Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas across the FOX family of networks, with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET on FS GO before shifting to FS2 at 2:30 p.m. ET until 6 p.m. ET. In Europe, Eurosport will carry the full race live, with English language commentary from Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor beginning at 5:50 p.m. BST. Click Here for the full TV times.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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