FIA WEC – Everything you need to know about Rolex 6 Hours of São Paulo

The FIA World Endurance Championship will make its eagerly-anticipated return to Brazil later this week as the world’s premier sportscar series gears up for the Rolex 6 Hours of São Paulo (12-14 July).

It has been ten years since Interlagos’ Autódromo José Carlos Pace last hosted a round of the FIA WEC. A 6 hour race was first staged at the circuit in the WEC’s inaugural season in September 2012 which Toyota won, while Porsche triumphed at the 2014 edition two years later.

At just 4.309km, Interlagos it the shortest track of the year and features 15 turns (5 right/10 left). Hypercars reach speeds in the region of 305kph where approximately 50% of the lap is travelled with a fully-opened throttle. During each tour of the circuit, Hypercar drivers will shift gears an estimated 38 times.

Nineteen Hypercars and 18 LMGT3 cars will go head-to-head for the WEC’s South American leg including two local drivers for the home fans to support: Nicolas Costa driving the McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo for United Autosports and Augusto Farfus who will pilot the BMW M4 LMGT3 for Team WRT.

Costa, who knows Interlagos better than most drivers on the WEC grid, explained some of the key characteristics of the circuit: “It’s a flowing track that tests all the strengths of the car… we have a really long straight going uphill so power is really needed. We have fast corners, slow corners – it’s very traction dependent and aero too. Overall, it’s a hard track to balance the car and it’s important to have a good package!”

The entry list for São Paulo sees a few minor driver changes. The No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche 963 has listed Neel Jani and Julien Andlauer to share driving duties – regular third driver Harry Tincknell is unable to be in Brazil due to a clash with IMSA for the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park round of the series.

Meanwhile, the No. 78 Akkodis ASP Team driven Lexus RC F LMGT3 sees regular Silver driver Timur Boguslavskiy replaced by Austria’s Clemens Schmid. DTM racer Schmid made his WEC debut at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this year when Boguslavskiy was unable to race due to an illness.

Finally, Mike Conway will return to the cockpit of the No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid Hypercar while former team-mate Jose Maria Lopez will step back into the No. 87 Akkodis ASP run Lexus RC F LMGT3. Lopez replaced Conway for Le Mans after the Briton sustained an injury while out training on his bike.

All eyes, however, will be on the increasingly-close 2024 championship titles with just 12 points separating the top three manufacturers – Porsche, Ferrari and Toyota – in the FIA Hypercar World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship.

With a total of 108 points, Porsche top the overall leaderboard but they face stiff competition from Ferrari who are just behind on 99 points and Toyota who are third with 96 points. With more than 100 championship points (104 including pole position points) still available at the remaining WEC rounds in Brazil, USA, Japan and Bahrain, the 2024 title fight is well and truly on…

In the headline Hypercar category, there have been four different winners so far this year showing the true competitive nature of the championship. At round one in Qatar, it was Porsche Penske Motorsport and the competitive Porsche 963 that was victorious. This was followed by Toyota Gazoo Racing and its 2023 championship-winning Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar which triumphed at round two in Imola. Hertz Team JOTA and its privately run Porsche 963 was next to take the glory as the British squad clinched the chequered flag at Spa-Francorchamps in May. Most recently, it was the turn of Ferrari AF Corse as the Ferrari 499P Hypercar once again proved the car to beat at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As for the new-for-2024 LMGT3 class, it’s even closer with the top three teams separated by a mere two points! Manthey PureRXcing and Manthey EMA are both tied at the top of the standings with 75 points apiece and round two winners, Team WRT, have a total of 73 points.

The all-female Iron Dames crew will be full of confidence going into Brazil following their victory at last weekend’s ELMS race in Imola – the trio secured pole position in the Lamborghini Huracan LMGT3 Evo2 at Spa-Francorchamps but have yet to convert their pace into a race win in WEC so far this season.

Race action commences on Friday (12 July) with FP1 and FP2, while Qualifying – and the all-important Hyperpole – is set to take place on Saturday. The green flag for the 6 hour race will be waved at 11:30 local time on Sunday (14 July).