The World Endurance Championship makes a return this weekend with the Six Hours of Silverstone and there is plenty of home interest in the driver field. We will preview the British runners and riders in the GTE categories tomorrow, but for now here is the low-down on those taking part in LMP1 and LMP2.
Brit Pack Ranking: 4th (15.036 points)
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 Hybrid – with Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) and Jose Maria Lopez (Arg)
It has been a quiet season for Conway thus far, as the Bromley-born racer has competed just five times this season. His form has been impressive though, both in Europe and over the Atlantic. 2nd and 3rd in the Daytona 24 Hour and Sebring 12 Hour races respectively in the Whelen Cadillac started the year well. His main programme though is in the WEC for Toyota and despite both races so far this season ending in second places, Conway has continued to build a reputation as one of the fastest, most consistent sportscar racers in the world. Another case, maybe, of single-seaters loss being sportscar’s gain.
Ranking: 15th (7.882 points)
#11 SMP Racing – BR Engineering BR1-AER – with Mikhail Aleshin (Rus) and Vitaly Petrov (Rus)
The 2009 Formula 1 World Champion has steadily built up his racing programme again after leaving the grand prix rat race in 2016. A Super GT programme with Honda has seen the Brit show a good deal of consistency, including two podiums. He has also joined up with Russian outfit SMP Racing for the WEC, a partnership that began at Le Mans in a race hampered by mechanical woes. Performance breaks for the car, quick teammates and home territory should present Button with the chance to shine this weekend.
Ranking: 31st (4.200 points)
#4 ByKolles Racing Team – ENSO CLM P1/01-Nismo – with Rene Binder (Aut)
Webb has been a mainstay of the ByKolles operation over three trying seasons. 2018 finally sees a car that is working better and is nearer to the pace of their P1 rivals. His season has been relatively quiet too, save for a podium in the Lamborghini SuperTrofeo Middle East and an appearance in the Dubai 24h. His WEC campaign began with a 4th at Spa, some five laps off the pace of the victorious Toyota. This was an improvement on 2017 though and the car has never been stronger, even if a fourth hour retirement at Le Mans brought disappointment.
Ranking: 35th (3.956 points)
#10 DragonSpeed – BR Engineering BR1-Gibson – with Henrik Hedman (Swe) and Renger van der Zande (Ned)
Anyone who was at Silverstone last year will remember the stunning drive Hanley put in for DragonSpeed in the ELMS race. Quick, tidy, consistent – Hanley is a driver who is finally finding his niche after a stop-go career that has yielded positive results in a wide range of categories, as well as a return to karting between 2012 and 2016. Hanley still competes in karts and secured a recent podium in a European Championship race. He also participated for DragonSpeed in ELMS this season (and will do so again this weekend), securing pole and fastest lap at Monza in May. He is definitely one to watch.
#31 DragonSpeed – Oreca 07-Gibson – with Roberto Gonzalez (Mex) and Pastor Maldonado (Ven)
You read that right, Davidson is unranked this year. This is because he has not actually raced; his 2018 campaign – save for appearances on Sky F1 – has been limited to testing for Toyota. He is now back, racing for DragonSpeed in LMP2, and you can expect him to be right on the money. Davidson knows how at Silverstone – he was key to Toyota’s victory here last year – so it is not difficult to see why his new team are confident of a good result.
Photos courtesy of WEC/Jakob Ebrey Photography.