Porsche and Toyota Preview Mexico City
Porsche LMP Team aims to extend championship lead in Mexico
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, says in the run-up to the six-hour race in Mexico: “We continue to follow the clear target of defending both world championship titles. After winning the Le Mans 24 Hours for the third consecutive time despite difficult circumstances, and more recently claiming a hat-trick of wins at the Nürburgring, we want to conclude the 2017 WEC with the third successive constructors’ and drivers’ titles.” Since Porsche’s return to the top category of Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1) in 2014, the Porsche 919 Hybrid has won 15 races.
Porsche announced its new motorsport strategy last month (July) which confirmed the end of the LMP1 program at the end of 2017. “The Porsche 919 Hybrid will not only be remembered as one of the companies most successful race cars”, Enzinger points out, “but it is also a role model of Porsche’s philosophy to take technology to its limits and test future relevant innovations in motor sports. With regard to electrification, hybrid and high voltage technology as well as combustion efficiency, the 919 took on a pioneering task that paid off.”
Team Principal Andreas Seidl focuses on the coming championship round on the 4.304 kilometer long Grand Prix circuit at the million-resident metropolis of Mexico City: “The most specific feature is the altitude of 2,250 meters above sea level. Thin air with less oxygen makes appropriate cooling of the power train and brakes difficult and also has a huge influence on aerodynamics. Lower drag leads to less downforce and stability in the corners. On the other hand top speeds on the 1.2 kilometer long straight tend to be high. In 2016, the team adapted very well to these special requirements. We certainly would love to repeat last year’s win at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez.”
The circuit is named after the brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodríguez, who’s successes are fondly remembered at Porsche; especially the feats of Pedro Rodríguez who became sports car world champion with the 917 in 1970. The circuit is narrow and challenging. Its landmark is the right-left-hander in front of the steep grandstands of a former baseball stadium. The race starts at noon on Sunday and will be broadcasted worldwide on the internet and television.
The Porsche LMP drivers before the race in Mexico City
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
André Lotterer (35, Germany): “I’m very much looking forward to the next race. In 2016, the Mexican fans were very enthusiastic. One could feel that in this country there is a lot of passion for racing, and the circuit has a great history to it. I did a Champ Car race there in 2002 which was a great experience. In the WEC last year I managed the overall fastest qualifying lap, and in the race we had a cool catch up until some brake problems occurred. Somehow I always feel very comfortable in this part of the world. Perhaps this is down to my Peruvian father.”
Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain): “I have never been to Mexico and for me it will be the first time to discover a new race track with the 919 Hybrid. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m sure the simulator work will help. I know the team was strong there in 2016 and so I hope we can fight for the victory again. I had quite a busy summer with some events and races with my own team. Now I can just concentrate on enjoying driving the 919 again.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2
Earl Bamber (27, New Zealand): “I have been to Mexico City but never raced there. It is always good to experience a new circuit and I’m also happy to get back at the wheel of the 919 Hybrid after the long summer break. I hope our aero package works well in Mexico. Of course we lose downforce because of the high altitude, but that’s the same for everybody. Besides having time off, I was doing some coaching in the Carrera Cup Asia junior program and I was very pleased to see my 23-year old brother winning another race. I’m very proud of him.”
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “The Mexican WEC debut in 2016 was a great event with many excited fans. I enjoyed the scenery and in the end our efforts were rewarded with a race win. The track is not an easy one. It is a mixture with elements of a permanent circuit combined with street circuit elements. Sometimes you get very close to the walls and this is where a precise driving style can make a difference. I could physically feel the thin air which is an additional aspect. Last year the team adapted very quickly. I’m very much looking forward to the race. It’s time that the break comes to an end.”
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): “The Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez is one of my favorite circuits on the calendar with its street track feel and stadium atmosphere. We won the race last year and return this year with the same goal in mind. Although we had the bad news Porsche will stop its LMP1 program at the end of this season, every single member of the team will continue giving their very best and fight for the titles.”
Schedule (local time):
Friday, September 1 2017
17:15-18:45 1st free practice
Saturday, September 2 2017
09:30-11:00 2nd free practice
13:45-14:45 3rd free practice
18:20-18:40 qualifying LMP1 & LMP2
Sunday, September 3 2017
MEXICAN MISSION FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING
The team has won two of the four races so far in 2017 and continues to challenge Porsche for the manufacturers’ World Championship. Going into the Mexican round, TOYOTA is 39.5 points behind in second, with a maximum of 44 points available each race weekend.
The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María L¢pez has been on pole position three times this season and the crew travels to Mexico targeting a first win of the year.
In the #8 TS050 HYBRID, Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima are fighting for the drivers’ World Championship following victories at Silverstone and Spa. They are 30 points behind the #Porsche 2 crew in the standings.
At 2,285m above sea level, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has much thinner air than most circuits, making it harder to generate downforce. So, as at the previous race at the Nürburgring in mid-July, the team will use its high-downforce aerodynamic package.
The 4.304km circuit in Mexico City rejoined the WEC calendar in 2016 after a 25-year absence. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing earned a return to the podium in that race with its #6 car, which completed a remarkable recovery after missing most of practice due to an accident and subsequent monocoque change.
This year’s race represents Hisatake Murata’s first as Team President and the team is determined to start the non-European leg of the season with a positive result for both cars, prior to trips to the United States, Japan, China and Bahrain.
Hisatake Murata, Team President: “I am looking forward to the Mexico race; it is my first race as Team President so I would like to celebrate with a strong result. The team in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne has worked very hard since Nürburgring to prepare our TS050 HYBRIDs for Mexico and the other non-European circuits, which suit our car quite well. We are still fighting for both World Championships so we know it is important to score a lot of points in every race. That is our clear target for Mexico.”
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I really enjoyed racing in Mexico last year. It’s a tight and twisty track which makes it challenging with the traffic and overtaking is difficult, but I like the flow of the corners. I’m looking forward to the crowd because they are really enthusiastic and to see the stadium section full of fans is brilliant. I am sure it will be another close fight with Porsche and I hope we can come out on top.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I am happy to be racing again in WEC after a long summer break. Mexico is the start of the second half of our season, so it is important for the team to perform well and score good points for the manufacturers’ World Championship. I think the car will be stronger than at the Nürburgring so I am optimistic we can challenge at the front.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Mexico is a track which I really like so I am looking forward to going back there. The straight there is really long and it creates good overtaking possibilities. The stadium is also a great part of the circuit; when you enter it and see all the fans sitting in the grandstands it just feels amazing. After Nürburgring and Le Mans I really want to bounce back and fight for the win in Mexico.”
Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “We are expecting to be in the fight for victories throughout the rest of the season, starting in Mexico. I didn’t race there last year as I had a rib injury so it will be my first proper taste of the circuit. We had a strong car there in 2016 and I think we will be even stronger this year. I want to race at the front and earn as many points as possible for the World Championship.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Last year was my first visit to Mexico so I spent some time relaxing there after the race and I discovered I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the country. It’s a nice place to be and also the track is an interesting one. We are still challenging for both World Championships so we want a clean race and two cars on the podium. We will push as hard as we can for this.”
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in 6 Hours of Mexico:
2016 #5: Qualifying 5th; Race DNF. #6: Qualifying 6th; Race 3rd.
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