2016 Circuit of the Americas IMSA WEC Porsche leadshot-1

31 cars. 4 classes. 1 track. Add 6 hours of gruelling competition under the intense Texas heat as the sun goes down, the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas (CoTA) is a twist on the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)

Austin, TX – Never having been to a live race of this level, what I found crazy about the WEC aside from the high-level endurance racing for six-hours straight which began at 5pm ending an hour before midnight under a full moon (plus, some fireworks in the mix), is that there are four levels of race cars with 31 cars in the field…all competing at the same time: the LMP1, LMP2, LMGTE Pro, and LMGTE Am, where ultra-performance cars like the Aston Martin Vantage V8, Porsche 911 RSR, Ford GT, Corvette C7 Z06, and Ferrari F458 Italia in the Pro and Am series all look like dinky cars compared to the otherworldly LMP1s including the Porsche 919 Hybrid, Audi R18 diesel, and Toyota TS050 Hybrid; being lapped after only three or four laps into this competition at CoTA which stretches for 5.513 km with 20 corners (which I believe has the most turns of the nine WEC global tracks).

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This definitely makes for a great race, observing the vast differences in performance and how highly-competitive racers share the track for six-hours straight. To dial up the crazy, the Le Mans race – one of the nine the WEC series – goes for 24 hours straight. Add hybrids, diesels, and V4 engines contributing to 1000-hp race rockets, it becomes obvious why the FIA World Endurance Championship is unlike any other professional racing series out there. 

First-Place Finish: the 900+HP Porsche 919 Hybrid

Only five teams compete in the highest category Le Mans prototypes class one (LMP1), but it’s Porsche, Toyota, and Audi hogging the podium almost every time (sorry Rebellion Racing and Alpine). In the recent Mexico City race, the top four LMP1 cars qualified within three tenths of a second, just to provide an idea how tight this race really is.

But it’s Porsche and their 919 Hybrid that’s making noise, now having won five of the 2016 WEC races thus far, including Silverstone, Le Mans, the Nürburgring, Mexico City, and just this past weekend, the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, led by Porsche drivers Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, and Brendon Hartley in car #1.

Having won Le Mans twice, the 919 Hybrid is innovative in that it uses a combustion engine; a compact two-litre V4 (!) turbocharged petrol engine putting down nearly 500-hp, paired to an electric motor producing another 400-plus horsepower.

Gallery

Before the WEC cars took to the track, CoTA played host to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship just hours prior.

Here’s a quick look at after the race following the IMSA competition; plus, WEC images both pre-race and during: