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6H CoTA: Thursday Paddock Notes

First set of news and notes as the WEC teams get set up in Texas

Tyre degradation

Multiple drivers touched on the importance of keeping the tyres in good shape for this weekend. CEFC TRS Manor Racing’s Ben Hanley noted that tyre degradation will be much more of a factor here than it was in Mexico City, especially when taking into account the much hotter ambient air temperatures in Texas.

In addition to that Gulf Racing Porsche driver Ben Barker pointed out that there will be a “lot of pickup,” for cars that have to make any off-track excursions.

Specifically speaking about Gulf Racing and the team’s Porsche, he also added that the team’s performance in Mexico was a really positive one and “proved we can be competitive.” Barker with Mike Wainwright and Nick Foster are currently fourth in the championship, but are unfortunately a ways back from third.

“It was good to get on the podium, it’s been great for the confidence in the team,” he continued. “Mike was just really comfortable, and Nick was on the pace too. We’re hungry for more this weekend.”

Championship race in GTE-AM heating up

With a stellar showing last race in Mexico City the #77 Porsche of Dempsy-Proton racing have taken the lead of the championship. They currently hold onto a 10 point lead over the #98 Aston Martin Vantage, who the aforementioned Ben Barker believes will be very quick this weekend, drawing attention to the very long straight which will aide the Aston Martin.

The Vantage has also received a weight break for this weekend, which Proton driver Matteo Cairoli should only give them “a tenth or two per lap” in pace.

Cairoli though, is only concerned about the task at hand for the German team, explaining that it is now focused on winning the title.

“I’m really looking to racing here, and in the remaining rounds of the championship which are all new to me and Marvin (Dienst),” he said. “We expect it to be close, with Aston and Ferrari being in the mix. We’re going for the win this weekend, we’d love to get a hat trick and extend out points advantage.”

Barker weighs in on the GTE LMP Warning Lights

New warning lights to notify GT drivers of approaching LMP cars were added to the cars in Mexico, with the goal of helping the drivers be more aware of the cars approaching from behind.

Gulf Racing’s Ben Barker though was not a fan of the new system saying he was already aware enough of the cars behind him, and that in the more intensive sections of the track you struggle to read the words that appear on the screen. The system is designed to pop up a blue screen with the words “LMP” on it, but Barker pointed out the fact that they already had the blue flag warning on the screen and the words did not add much.

“I suppose its better to have it, than to not have it, but really, I find I’m pretty aware of my surroundings, and it’s therefore not much of a benefit,” he told DSC. “It’s mostly the same when an LMP2 or LMP1 car comes past, there’s only a few places where the cars react differently, so it’s not that helpful.”

Weather forecast

The weather for the weekend is all clear skies with no rain in the forecast at all. A sharp change from the often rain filled skies of Mexico City that the team’s had to deal with last race. The main focus for engineers and strategists will be on the temperatures with the forecasts pointing towards temperatures being in the mid to high thirties in celsius. Adding even more complications to tyre degradation.

When DSC spoke to Ben Hanley, he explained that while the temperatures will be hard to deal with in Texas, it was a real factor for him at Mexico too, as the #24 car had its air conditioning fail, meaning the cockpit temperatures were over 30 degrees during the race.

First time at CoTA for Hanley

Ben Hanley also explained to DSC that this weekend is his first trip to the circuit, meaning he’ll have a lot to learn over the next couple of days as he gets up to speed with the circuit, and its climate.

“I’ve been racing each weekend for the last five weeks, it’s hard to turn down time in the car. I haven’t been able to do any sim work, but it should be ok,” he said.

He also spoke to DSC about his drive with Manor, stating that he hopes it won’t be his last appearance with the team this year.

“I’d love to continue racing with them, they’re an ex-F1 team, very well run. But at this stage I’m not sure whether I’ll race with them again, as I’m not sure what the situation is with the other drivers.”

This weekend is his fourth in the WEC, after racing at Spa, the Nürburgring and Mexico City this season, with TDS Racing, G-Drive Racing and now Manor.

Back to Valero for Aston

The #97 Aston Martin Racing GTE Pro Vantage will be back in Valero colours for this weekend’s race in Texas, sporting stickers promoting a competition which the Aston Martin is running with the Royal Air Force, giving the public a chance to win a special edition ‘Vanquish S Red Arrows’ as part of a fund raiser for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Details on how to enter the #AstonRed10 competition are available HERE.

How to watch

This weekend’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas is set to be streamed live time on the FIA WEC official app with commentary from DSC’s editor Graham Goodwin, Martin Haven, and Allan Mcnish (it starts at midday local time), you can also listen to the race live for free over on radiolemans.com.