Last Wednesday, 9 April, Kensington Palace opened its gates to endurance racing royalty for the official launch of the British round of the FIA World Endurance Championship – The 6 Hours of Silverstone.
Guests of honour His Royal Highness Prince Michael and Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent attended the press conference which was held at the Palace’s ornate banquet hall, The Orangery.
As President of the Royal Automobile Club, Prince Michael was joined by FIA WEC chief executive officer Gerard Neveu, and six of the star drivers who will be competing – including reigning World Champion Tom Kristensen, Darren Turner (Aston Martin Racing), James Calado (AF Corse Ferrari), Maro Holzer (Porsche Team Manthey), Johnny Mowlem (RAM Racing Ferrari) and Ben Collins (RAM Racing Ferrari) – to discuss the highlights of this year’s revolutionary race given the challenging new LMP1 regulations requiring the use of renewable technologies.
“My biggest satisfaction is that in the LMP1 class, where we’ve made a really big change to the rules, the cars are all out there going round and round with no embarrassment of people being towed back to the pits after a quarter of a lap and so on,” said Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, President of the FIA Endurance Commission. “I think the manufacturers have been fantastic in preparing this in a very professional way and that we should be very proud of them. It really looks as though we are going to have a ding-dong season with them.”
In this third season of the Championship, new rules, which see the introduction of hybrid cars to the circuit, “will make the WEC and the 24 Heures du Mans the most relevant form of motorsport” on the world stage today, according to the WEC website.
Another exciting development is the return of Porshe to the LMP1 track, with its new 919 Hybrid winning fastest lap at the official Prologue of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France.
Ticket sales for The 6 Hours of Silverstone are gaining momentum, now surpassing 2013 numbers, and a new app will be launched at Silverstone to help race fans gain access to all the races.
British fans will be happy to cheer for their own Anthony Davidson driving for Toyota, UK-based favourite Australian Mark Webber driving for Porsche, and former ‘Stig’ from BBC’s Top Gear, Ben Collins competing in the LMGTE Am class.
The 6 Hours of Silverstone will kick off the FIA WEC season on Easter weekend, Sunday 20 April, with Free Practice and Qualifying taking place on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 April. Competitors at The 6 Hours of Silverstone will all be vying for the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy, which dates back to 1905. This will be the first of eight races across four continents, spanning from The Americas to Fiji.
After the conference, a surprise treat awaited attendees as they then gathered outside to feast their eyes on three assembled cars up close – a Toyota TS030, an Audi R18 e-tron quattro and an Aston Martin Vantage V8. Prince Michael and his wife marvelled at the technology, and graciously made themselves available for pictures.