The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) roars back into action this weekend with the 8 Hours of Portimao. As exclusive tyre supplier to the LMP2 category, Goodyear is ready for Round 2 on the Portuguese Algarve coast.
Portimao’s Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a new circuit on the WEC calendar this year but one familiar to many teams as a regular feature on the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) schedule. Its fast, flowing corners with steep climbs and descents throughout the lap make for an interesting challenge. Goodyear heads into this weekend’s race with a wealth of experience at Portimao, both from its experience supplying LMP2 and LMGTE cars in the ELMS race there, but from extensive testing with WEC teams, too.
Mike McGregor, Goodyear Endurance Racing Programme Manager, says: “Portimao is one of the tracks we tested the new tyre specification on so that gives us useful information heading into the race, in terms of how the tyre will perform and what setups we can recommend to teams. We know the circuit from racing there last year, too. When a championship arrives at a new circuit, there is always an element of the unknown, but we’re confident in the experience and knowledge that we already have of this track.” All 11 LMP2 teams racing this weekend will have access to Goodyear’s ‘C-spec’ tyre compound used last time at the 6 Hours of Spa and in the last two ELMS races.
This specification has already shown its versatility to perform in a wide range of environments, which is important as teams prepare for the unpredictable and changing conditions at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. McGregor adds: “We have worked hard to provide teams with a tyre specification that works in a broad operating window, as can be seen in the last few WEC and ELMS races. The Red Bull Ring ELMS race was very cold and it’s a low-energy track, which means it puts a low amount of pressure on tyres, whereas the temperatures were considerably more changeable on the high-energy track at Spa. At Portimao, we go into a medium-energy circuit where the temperatures are going to be much hotter.”
This weekend, Goodyear will continue working with teams to gather data ahead of Le Mans. As McGregor explains, the increased number of Goodyear teams in WEC over last year helps speed up that learning process: “The big difference with having this many cars on the grid now is that we can learn so much faster how the tyres are working with different driving styles. As a Pro-Am category, LMP2 features a huge variety of driving styles and setup philosophies. Teams have to tailor the car to work for different drivers with distinct styles. This is what our track support engineers are working on with the teams to support them finding a bespoke setup that works with the tyre package.” On-track action for the 8 Hours of Portimao begins on Friday afternoon, with the race scheduled to begin at 12:00 SA time on Sunday, 13 June.
The live race will be broadcast on DSTV Supersport on Sunday, from 12:00 – 20:00.