With just over five weeks to go until the big event at the impressive Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez facility, located in the heart of one of the world’s most culturally rich and popular capital cities, 26 cars are on the provisional entry list for the fifth round of the 2017 WEC– all guaranteed to provide excitement and entertainment for the thousands of fans due to attend.
For the first of the five overseas races on the 2017 calendar, we will see Porsche and Toyota go head to head in LMP1 with the Japanese manufacturer keener than ever to close the gap in the points balance after Porsche’s 1-2 success at the Nürburgring race. Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard won in Mexico last year – will they do it again or will the balance tip towards Toyota Gazoo Racing who undoubtedly have the pace but are lacking a little luck?
Among the stars displaying their talents in Mexico will be three-time FIA World Touring Car Champion José Mariá López of Toyota. The Argentinian can’t wait to be at what will effectively be his ‘home’ race, or the one nearest to his home in South America, and experience the fantastic ambience and passion from the Mexican spectators.
All the LMP1 cars, now without the privateer ByKolles team which has elected to concentrate on development for 2018, will be in the mix at the front of the field and capitalising on the long straight and high altitude of the Mexico City track.
Increased power in LMP2 promises to thrill
There will be 9 entries in this super-competitive class, with just the omission of the second Signatech Alpine car from the full season entry list. The increased power and improved aerodynamics in 2017 have offered up some nail-biting battles in this category, and the Mexican fans can look forward to action, noise and maybe even some drama.
LMP2 features the only Mexican driver in the field thus far, Roberto Gonzalez in the No. 25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07 Gibson. The older brother of race promoter Ricardo Gonzalez will line up with Simon Trummer and Vitaly Petrov – the trio determined to get their first podium of the season in front of Roberto’s home crowd.
Adding extra fervour for the Mexican fans will be two famous South American racing names – Nelson Piquet Jr and Bruno Senna, both competing for the Vaillante Rebellion team, and Senna’s No.31 holding second place in the LMP2 championship behind the seemingly invincible Jackie Chan DC Racing team.
Andre Negrão is set to replace Matt Rao at the wheel of the No.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry. The Brazilian driver teams with defending LMP2 Champions Nicolas Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes in the squad’s lead Alpine A470 Gibson.
Unpredictability in LMGTE classes leads to nose-to-tail racing
The Mexican fans can anticipate another sensational battle for supremacy in the LMGTE classes as the world’s most popular and luxurious marques come together once again in the ultra-close Pro and Am categories.
The quest for the GT FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship sees Ferrari and Ford currently tied on 135 points, with Aston Martin and Porsche also within touching distance of the lead. Ferrari and Ford will of course be looking to maximise their turbocharged engines in the rarefied Mexican atmosphere, but it was an Aston Martin which took victory in 2016. Can they do it again, to the delight of Brazilian Daniel Serra’s Latin American fans, or maybe it will be the turn of the new-for-2017, mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR?
In LMGTE Am there is an incredibly tight battle for the top of the points’ tables, with the crews from Dempsey Proton Racing (No.77 Porsche 911 RSR) and Clearwater Racing (No.61 Ferrari 488 GTE) tied on 88 points at the head of the classifications. Just two points further back is the No.98 Aston Martin Racing trio – all three crews having taken a win so far this year.
The scene is almost set, and the drivers and teams that make up entry list for one of the FIA’s most popular championships are ready to return to Mexico for further adventures. The world’s fastest and most exciting endurance racing was introduced to some of the most passionate and dedicated motorsport fans in 2016. With WEC races such as have been witnessed at Spa and Le Mans this year, open paddocks, pit walks and autograph sessions, entertainment for all the family on and off the track is guaranteed.
The action will begin on Friday 1st September with practice on the 2.674-mile circuit, with the race scheduled to begin at 12 noon local time on Sunday 3rd September.
Article by Fiona Miller and published on the WEC website