Round three of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Franchorchamps, will see a record 13 Hypercars take to the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit later this week (27-29 April).
Traditionally, the venue located in the Ardennes, famous for its ever-changing weather conditions, also serves as the ultimate test for teams ahead of the all-important 24 Hours of Le Mans (10-11 June).
Last year, the circuit underwent significant changes – these focused on the run-off areas and resurfacing parts of the circuit. During each tour of the 7-kilomtere circuit Hypercar drivers shift gears 44 times, reaching top speeds in the range of 317kph and traveling with fully-opened throttle for 51% of the lap.
The Hypercar line-up is bolstered by two additional entries with the extra V-Series.R from Cadillac Racing and a third Porsche 963. Joining the official Porsche Penske Motorsport-operated cars is the machine entered by reigning LMP2 title-winning outfit, Hertz Team JOTA – WEC’s first Hypercar-class customer car.
The two new cars bring the number of Hypercars entries to a total of 13 – a record for the new Hypercar category and the second-biggest top-class grid in WEC history.
The entry also sees strong local representation across all classes, with four drivers – Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche Penske/Hypercar), Ulysse de Pauw (AF Corse/LMGTE Am), Sarah Bovy (Iron Dames/LMGTE Am) and Alessio Picariello (Iron Lynx/LMGTE Am) – racing under Belgian licences. Furthermore, local ace Stoffel Vandoorne will be on duty as Peugeot TotalEnergies reserve driver.
Porsche’s Vanthoor lives only 45 minutes from the circuit, while his team-mate, German three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Andre Lotterer is also considered local, having grew up in Belgium. With no Belgian drivers in LMP2, the host country’s honour colours will be sported by the class’ front-running outfit, Team WRT.
A change in the entry list for Spa-Francorchamps sees Heart of Racing, the reigning IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD team, make its WEC debut as legendary LMGTE Am driver Paul Dalla Lana calls time on his endurance racing career. Following a glittering GT career, the Aston Martin Racing legend is retiring from racing to give his full focus over to his multiple business interests.
With two wins out of two races so far this season, Toyota is heading into the Ardennes with 64 points to its name in the Manufacturers’ championship, 22 over second-best Ferrari. Porsche and Cadillac are level on 30 points in the battle for third.
Among drivers, it is the crew of the No. 8 GR010 Hybrid (Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryō Hirakawa) that, owing to a victory at Portimao, is enjoying an 11-point lead over the No. 51 Ferrari 499P of Antionio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen.
In the hotly-contested LMP2 class, the crew of the No. 22 United Autosports entry heads the No. 63 Prema Racing 56 to 40 on points, with the No. 41 Team WRT entry in third and looking for its first win of the season.
In LMGTE Am, Corvette Racing is heading into Belgium unbeaten and, with 64 points out of two races, enjoys a comfortable 31-point advantage over second-best squad, Dempsey-Proton Racing. The likes of AF Corse, Kessel Racing and Iron Dames are all in the mix and despite Corvette’s early dominance, the class title is far from settled.
The on-track action is set to kick off on Thursday, with Qualifying taking place on Friday afternoon and the green flag for the six-hour race to be waved at 12:45 CEST on Saturday.