In round 2 of the World Endurance Championship, at Spa-Francorchamps, Audi was able to triumph by maintaining quick lap times on used tyres. Indeed, Benoît Tréluyer was able to drive for very nearly two hours on a single set of Michelins, while the Porsches struggled to make their tyres last for even an hour and fifteen minutes, without a significant drop off in lap times. The problem was exacerbated by the regulation that restricted LMP1 teams to using just six sets of tyres for qualifying and the race, this meant that with seven pit stops required to get to the finish, two sets of tyres required double-stinting.
The regulations recognise that the circuits at both Bahrain and Shanghai have particular characteristics that make tyre loading more significant, and as a result, teams are allowed to use eight sets of tyres at these events, later this year.
But as the Nürburgring was not part of the WEC in 2014, the FIA Endurance Committee was required to meet to establish the tyre allocation for that race. In March, a bulletin was issued to the effect that the Endurance Committee would make such judgement three months before the event.
So it came as some surprise that on 29th June, less than nine weeks before the Nürburgring Six Hours, the Endurance Committee issued a bulletin, announcing that LMP1 teams would be allowed to use eight sets of tyres for qualifying and the race at the German round of the Championship on August 30th.
This in effect will allow Porsche to change tyres at each stop, if they need to, at the Nürburgring, they merely have to use the set of tyres used for qualifying again in the race.
Readers will remember that at Le Mans, Porsche triple-stinted their tyres in the first (warm) part of the race and only went to quadruple stints as darkness fell. Audi, in comparison, quad-stinted the tyres throughout the race. In the final six hours of the race, Porsche was not under pressure, and was able to continue to quadruple stint and tyre allocation was not a problem.
Unless there is a further rule clarification, Porsche will only have to face the spectre of making six sets of tyres last the whole six hours at the Circuit of Americas and at Fuji. And don’t forget that the limitation is only on the use of slick tyres, so if it should rain in Texas or Japan, (it’s happened before…) then limits on tyre allocation will be not be relevant.
Following its win at Le Mans, Porsche currently leads Audi in the World Endurance Championship for Manufacturers by sixteen points (140 to 124), although Audi drivers André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer have a twenty-three point lead in the drivers’ championship over series regulars Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas.