This weekend sees the return of the World Endurance Championship to Silverstone. Yesterday we previewed the prospects of the British drivers taking part in the LMP1 and P2 categories. Today is the turn of the GTE drivers where, again, you will find plenty of recognisable names.
Ranking: 8th (12.256 points)
#71 AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – with Davide Rigon (Ita)
Bird has made a great fist of running competitively in two championships in recent years. As well as being a stalwart of the AF Corse WEC programme, the 31-year-old has been a consistent frontrunner for DS Virgin Racing in Formula E, finishing 4th, 4th and 3rd in successive seasons. Add race wins in GTE Pro and an LMP2 title in 2015 and you have a talented, consistent driver who thrives at the cutting edge of motorsport. Silverstone in 2017 was a messy race for Bird though, but he can be expected to be running at the front (unless BoP puts a stop to that)>
Ranking: 30th (4.253 points)
#51 AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – with Alessandro Pier Guidi (Ita)
This is the fifth year Calado has represented AF Corse in the works Ferrari effort, with the general consensus being that the 29-year-old is one of the quickest, most consistent GTE drivers in the business. Having seen a very promising single-seater career come to nothing in 2013, despite 5th and 3rd-placed finishes in GP2, the Cropthorne-born driver had no qualms about moving categories and, in some respects, has proven to be something of a trailblazer for other young drivers who hit the glass ceiling near Formula 1. 2017 saw Calado secure the GTE driver’s title with partner Alessandro Pier Guidi.
Ranking: 55th (3.006 points)
#97 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage AMR – with Maxime Martin (Bel)
Sometimes it is difficult to believe that Lynn is still only 24, such is his experience over the years. There is no denying his talent, as GP2 wins, a GP3 title and a Macau F3 victory in 2013 highlights. He continues in single-seaters, although his rookie season in Formula E for DS Virgin was a challenging one in a car that lacked development. We hope he is back for more next season but, if not, he is a valued member of the Aston Martin team. The team are still quite low down on the development curve, not surprising considering this Vantage has contested just two races. One to watch, if not at Silverstone then certainly as the 2018-19 season progresses.
Ranking: 69th (2.442 points)
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – with Harry Tincknell (Gbr)
2018 has been a WEC-only season for three-time World Touring Car champion Priaulx. Now 45, the Guernsey-born driver has a wealth of experience (which he is passing on to his British Formula 4 front-running son, Seb, to good effect) and has been instrumental in the running and development of the current Ford GT operation. DTM, ELMS, V8 Supercars – you name it, Andy has probably driven it in anger, making him one of the most highly-regarded British drivers in recent years. 2018 needs a jump-start though, following a retirement at Spa and a penalty at Le Mans which saw a 4th place finish turn to dust.
Ranking: 73rd (2.339 points)
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – with Andy Priaulx (Gbr)
Tincknell shares the 67 Ford with Andy Priaulx and it is fair to say that the 26-year-old has served his ‘apprenticeship’ well. Tincknell has been around the WEC scene five years now, having been a part of the ill-fated Nissan LMP1 programme in 2015, as well as P2 wins with JOTA Sport and the LMP2 ELMS title for G-Drive in 2016. As well as his WEC super-season with Ford, the Exeter-born driver is part of the Mazda Team Joest effort in IMSA, which is developing well and should be challenging for podiums soon. With Priaulx, Tincknell was the GTE Pro winner at Silverstone last year and a large element of the local crowd will be hoping for the same again this year.
Ranking: 65th (2.584 points)
#90 TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage – with Salih Yoluc (Tur) and Charlie Eastwood (Gbr)
Domestic race fans will know Jonny well. Currently leading the British GT series with Flick Haigh – a title he has won twice before – Adam has also been on the podium in the BTCC. This seems a lifetime ago though as, certainly since 2010, the Scot has had his sights firmly fixed on GT racing. As a works Aston Martin driver, Adam has gained plenty of experience, including several Le Mans runs, highlighted by that stunning last lap category win in the Le Mans 24 last year. He was also Pro-Am champion in the Blancpain Endurance Series, making 2017 a year to remember. Adam steps down from the GTE-Pro team this weekend as their driver line-ups have been streamlined. But what a driver to add to the GTE Am crew.
Ranking: 107th (1.444 points)
#86 Gulf Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – with Ben Barker (Gbr) and Alex Davison (Aus)
45-year-old Eastwood is a vastly experienced bronze-rated driver who competes regularly in both WEC and ELMS in Gulf Racing colours. Four Le Mans runs in recent years highlights he knows what he is doing, even if the Porsche has struggled to match the pace and consistency of its rivals in 2018. Last year saw Wainwright and his team finish fourth at Silverstone. Anything equal or better than that will be a great result.
Ranking: 113th (1.319 points)
#90 TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage – with Salih Yoluc (Tur) and Jonny Adam (Gbr)
Eastwood dabbled in single-seaters early in his career but a move to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB in 2016 proved the making of him. Competing with Redline Racing, the 23-year-old won the title in 2017, which has since opened many doors with Aston Martin in 2018. Runs in the 24 hour triple crown of Spa, Le Mans and Nürburgring have been highlights, but a podium on his WEC debut for TF Sport shows there is a serious talent in the making here.
Ranking: 115th (1.291 points)
#86 Gulf Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – with Mike Wainwright (Gbr) and Alex Davison (Aus)
Long-time driving partner of Mike Wainwright, 27-year-old Barker has had a mass of experience which has brought plenty of wins and challenges – including the 2010 Australian Formula 3 title! 2018 is the third consecutive year he has driven for Gulf Racing and while results have not always been forthcoming, you can bank on Barker to put in some quality stints.
Photos courtesy of WEC/Marius Hecker