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Floating points - Where WEC drivers and teams stand ahead of the big race

Published by Pat W

As we approach the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2014 it is worth looking at the points standings for the FIA World Endurance Championship and the prospects for the rest of the season. Two rounds have been held so far, 6-hour races at Silverstone in April and Spa-Francorchamps in May.

The points system for a 6-hour WEC race is the same as that for Formula 1, with the addition of 0.5 points for all classified finishers below 10th (a 'well done' for finishing an endurance race). From memory I think you must complete at least 70% of the race winner's distance to be classified though I may stand to be corrected.

Toyota in the Le Mans pitlane
Credit: Toyota Motor Europe S.A./N.V.

Le Mans is worth double points. There are only 8 races so a clean run at the 24 Hours is vital to your season. After Le Mans the series visits Austin, Fuji, Shanghai, Bahrain and Interlagos - each worth the standard amount.

This race is different to the other events not only in length and points but also in entries. WEC entries get a spot at Le Mans guaranteed, but there are also a host of other entries who are not eligible for points such as those guesting from the European Le Mans Series, or the USA or Asia. Only cars registered for the WEC will score, non-championship cars are 'invisible' - e.g. you finish 6th in your class but you're the 4th-best WEC car home, you'll get points for 4th.

The WEC is peculiar in that it has a lot of things to win, with a variety of driver, manufacturer and team prizes up for grabs.

Le Mans Prototype category

World Endurance drivers prototype championship
18Duval/Di Grassi/KristensenAudi
14Pla/Canal/RusinovG-Drive (LMP2)
LMP1 Manufacturers Championship

Toyota holds the clear early advantage. Davidson, Lapierre and Buemi won the opening two rounds and enter Le Mans as the favourites, but how often do the favourites win the 24? Their team-mates of Wurz, Nakajima and Sarrazin finished second at Silverstone and third at Spa, sit second in points and are probably equal or close-second favourites for Le Mans. Right now the championship looks to be a fight between the two Toyotas.

But if Audi wins at Le Mans, which is worth 50 points, and Toyota has a bad finish or a DNF this would really shake things up.

Audi had a terrible Silverstone. In mixed weather conditions they gambled and stayed out on slicks hoping a rain shower would quickly pass. Their rivals switched to intermediates or wets and reaped the rewards, running 20 seconds per lap faster but rather than react to that and change to wets, both the Audis crashed out! A double-DNF was the worst possible result.

Despite that, the Kristensen-led Audi now lies third in the points thanks to finishing second at Spa. Lucas di Grassi is doing a solid job stepping into the shoes of Allan McNish. The other team of Treluyer, Fassler and Lotterer only claimed 5th at Spa behind two Toyotas, an Audi and one of the Porsches. I expect this trio to be on full attack at Le Mans.

Night practice for Audi
Credit: Audi AG

The best Porsche crew is the number 20 with Webber, Hartley and Bernhard fifth in driver points, finishing 3rd and 12th. The car is fast but it breaks down and isn't easy to work on. The sister number 14 car recorded a DNF and a 4th, and sits seventh in driver points behind the best of the LMP2 crews.

Rebellion Racing are the other LMP1 team. The number 12 trio led by Nick Heidfeld took 4th and 7th in the opening rounds with two different cars and are tied with the Kristensen Audi team. The old Lola was pensioned-off at Silverstone and the brand new barely-tested Rebellion R-One arrived at Spa. Their car is so new, their only aim at Le Mans is to finish the race. The number 13 team is having an awful start to the year with two non-finishes. There is also a cup for privateers but it is irrelevant as only the two Rebellions are eligible, unless the Colin Kolles Lotus ever shows up.

Le Mans Prototype 2 category

Endurance Trophy for LMP2 drivers
51Canal/Pla/RusinovG-Drive Morgan-Nissan
37Howsen/BradleyKCMG Oreca-Nissan
27Minassian/Mediani/ZlobinSMP Oreca-Nissan
19ImperatoriKCMG Oreca-Nissan
18MatusudaKCMG Oreca-Nissan
15A.Ladygin/K.Ladygin/ShaitarSMP Oreca-Nissan
Endurance Trophy for LMP2 teams
51G-Drive Racing#26
27SMP Racing#27
15SMP Racing#37

LMP2 is thin on the ground, some very good teams were seriously let down by sponsors so only four cars are here full-time. That's not to say the remaining teams are all bad, just that the overall quality and battle could've been better.

OAK Racing picked up the G-Drive sponsorship and it is little surprise to see them on top, two wins from two with their lone WEC entry. They'll have a second car at Le Mans, a brand new car built by their Onroak arm in partnership with Ligier which will then replace the Morgan in future WEC events. It would be a surprise if OAK did not win the title.

KCMG are a developing team from Hong Kong who look to be stars of the future, they finished second in both races with their single car. They entered different third-drivers at the opening races, Imperatori is back for Le Mans. These guys should be set for 2nd in the title.

SMP Racing, run by AF Corse with backing from a Russian bank (the same backing as Mikhail Aleshin in IndyCar) are the other full-season team and they run two cars. SMP didn't have a lot of luck at Silverstone but were more competitive at Spa. For Le Mans they've had a big driver reshuffle, which will revert back for the rest of the WEC. They'll need to step it up a bit or hope others hit troubles.

At least the Le Mans entry is considerably healthier.

Grand Touring Endurance category

World Endurance Cup for GT drivers
39Bruni/VilanderAF Corse Ferrari
27Turner/MückeAston Martin
25Rigon/CaladoAF Corse Ferrari
LMGTE Manufacturers World Cup
43Aston Martin
Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Pro Teams
39AF Corse#51
27Aston Martin#97
25AF Corse#71
16Aston Martin#99
8Ram Racing#52

The two Porsche Team Manthey cars finished 1-2 at the opening round at Silverstone, the Makoweicki/Holzer entry won (joined by Richard Lietz who missed Spa but is back for Le Mans). Aston Martin's Turner and Mücke finished 3rd and the Ferrari of Bruni/Vilander 4th.

At Spa the Ferraris came to the fore, Bruni and Vilander took the spoils. The Porsche of Bergmeister and Pilet finished 2nd in both races, doing enough for 2nd in the points. Third at Spa was the second AF Corse entry of GP2 and Superleague Formula refugees respectively, James Calado and Davide Rigon. Mako and Holzer could only manage 6th at Spa.

Aston Martin have struggled and they claim this is down to the Balance of Performance. They've been given an extra 5 litres in their fuel tanks for Le Mans which should help a little. Watch out for the return of Bruno Senna in the Turner/Mücke car.

I think the Porsche holds the edge but there are some tracks favouring the Ferrari. Aston Martin aren't quite there, possibly due to the tech rules. There isn't a lot to choose between drivers who are all top drawer.

Porsche 911 RSR in the Le Mans garage
Credit: Porsche Cars
Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am drivers
43Poulsen/Heinemeier-HansonAston Martin
34Companc/Cioci/VenturiAF Corse Ferrari
33Lamy/Nygaard/Dalla LannaAston Martin
26Wyatt/RugaloAF Corse Ferrari
Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am teams
43Aston Martin#95
34AF Corse#61
33Aston Martin#98
26AF Corse#81
24Proton Competition#88
10Ram Racing#53
8Prospeed Competition#75
68 Star Motorsport#90

In the Pro-Am GT category Aston Martin are faring a little better. They took a 1-2 at Silverstone with the Danish car of Heinemeier-Hansson, Poulsen and Thiim winning ahead of the Lamy/Nygaard/Dalla Lana entry. AF Corse were third with Wyatt and Rugalo.

At Spa AF Corse's other car of Companc/Cioci/Venturi won, beating the two Astons which came home in the same order as at Silverstone.

It'll probably swap around like this all year. As with LMP2 there is a huge GTE Am entry at Le Mans this week, incidents involving non-championship cars could easily determine the points scored this weekend.

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