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Endurance series set to go around and around ... in Mexico
By Colin Smith • 31/08/2016
The series makes its first visit to Mexico for the fifth round of the championship on Saturday.
The 6 Hours of Mexico City is being raced at the Circuito Hermanos Rodriguez, which also hosts the Mexican Grand Prix.
The first four rounds of endurance championship were staged in Europe — at Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans and the Nurburgring GP circuit.
Mexico is followed a fortnight later by the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas while the series then heads east for races at Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain to complete the season.
The 4.3km Mexico City circuit will provide some specific challenges for the prototype teams.
The 2200m altitude is expected to provide aerodynamic, cooling and hybrid system management challenges for the LMP1 machines.
When Formula 1 returned to Mexico City last November, the thinner atmosphere saw peak speeds on the 1.3km long straight higher than those at Monza.
The Mexican race marks the half-way point of the season, with Porsche having won three of the four races to date.
Kiwi racer Richie Stanaway teams with British driver Darren Turner for this weekend's 6 Hours of Mexico City.
In the LMP1 Manufacturers’ title race Porsche has 164 points from Audi on 129 and Toyota on 97.
In the Driver’s championship, the Porsche crew of Marc Lieb (Germany), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Romain Dumas (France) have a useful lead following wins at Silverstone and Le Mans, backed up by second place at Spa and fourth in the most recent race at the Nurburgring to tally 106 points.
The Spa-winning Audi crew of Loic Duval (France), Lucas di Grassi (Brazil) and Oliver Jarvis (GB) are second with 73 points and Toyota’s crew of Kamui Kobayashi (Japan), Mike Conway (GB) and Stephane Sarrazin (France) is on 62 points.
For the defending world champion crew of Kiwi Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber (Australia) and Timo Bernhard (Germany), the Mexican race is critical to rather slim hopes of retaining the crown.
After a troubled start in the first three races, a Nurburgring victory in late-July means the champion squad are eighth in the series with 28.5 points.
The other Kiwi driver in action in Mexico is Aston Martin factory driver Richie Stanaway (Tauranga), who teams with Darren Turner (GB) in one of Aston Martin’s GTE-Pro class Vantage V8 machines.
In a close-fought GT, Manufacturers champion Ferrari leads with 146 points from Aston Martin on 138 and Ford with 110.5pts.
Stanaway is sixth in the GT Drivers Championship on 55 points.
Leading the category is the Ford GT crew of Olivier Pla (France) and Stefan Mucke (Germany) with 72 points from Ferrari 488 drivers Davide Rigon (Italy) and Sam Bird (GB) who are on 70 points and Aston Martin’s Danish duo of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim on 67.