Goodyear’s World Championship title hunt gets ever-closer with the restart of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps this past weekend. The three Goodyear-equipped teams are eager to challenge for the win in the six-hour race after a long mid-season break.
The full-season Goodyear partner teams – Jota Sport and Jackie Chan DC Racing – will be joined by an additional Goodyear-shod car from Algarve Pro Racing, a Portuguese team that usually competes in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) but will step up to the world stage this weekend.
All three cars running the Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport race tyre are Oreca 07 Gibson prototypes competing in the LMP2 class, which is the only WEC class with open tyre competition. The cars produce around 600 hp from their 4.2-litre V8 engines.
Goodyear is firmly in the LMP2 championship title hunt with the Jackie Chan DC Racing and Jota Sport cars currently second and third in the standings. The former has finished on the podium in the last four rounds, while Jota took a memorable win at Shanghai in November.
Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is the first WEC race since the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas in Texas, almost six months ago in February. After this weekend’s race is the highlight of the calendar, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (19-20 September), before the season-ending 8 Hours of Bahrain (21 November).
European Le Mans Series race helped Goodyear teams’ preparation
Ahead of the six-hour WEC race on Saturday (15 August), ELMS competitors raced at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday (9 August) for a four-hour contest which included 17 cars using Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport race tyres.
This additional track time in the super-competitive ELMS was particularly beneficial for Algarve Pro Racing, which had two cars racing on Sunday, and Jota Sport, which doesn’t usually race in this series but made a one-off appearance to prepare for the WEC race.
Mike McGregor, Goodyear Manager, Race Sales, Testing and Track Support, says:”Jota entered the ELMS race to get a race under their belts so they feel a bit fresher going into the WEC race weekend, which obviously helps us with setup, and we’re using the same tyre specs in both races. Just having that extra track time will be a huge benefit. We’ve also got the benefit of the wildcard Algarve Pro entry now. One of their drivers is Jon Lancaster, who was one of our tyre development drivers. That all helps to give us the most information we could hope for, for , heat performance and optimal setups. It should definitely make the WEC race easier for us and our partner teams.”
New third-spec tyre useful for abrasive Spa track
Goodyear introduced its third LMP2 tyre spec in the ELMS race at Circuit Paul Ricard in July, and this B-spec (medium) compound will be brought to Spa along with the softer A-spec tyre. At every other race so far this season, teams have run the A (soft) and C (medium-plus) spec tyres.
“Spa is a true old-school circuit and it’s very aggressive on the tyres so we need to make sure we’re good on durability throughout the long race,” explains McGregor. “It’s so much more aggressive than other tracks. Shanghai is the closest to this on the WEC calendar and it was there that we scored our first win.
“Even though Spa is aggressive, we saw at Shanghai that you can still get the performance out of the softer A-spec compound if you manage the tyre right. That’s something we’re working closely with teams on, and the learnings from Sunday’s ELMS race will help more.”
Wet races are always a possibility at Spa, which is famous for its unpredictable weather, tucked away in the Ardennes. Goodyear’s full wet tyres haven’t raced yet, but the versatile intermediates were used at Silverstone in September, where they proved useful for mixed conditions.