– Shanghai LMP2 win was Goodyear’s first victory since comeback
– Bahrain is the longest race of the season so far
– Day into night temperature change to be a factor in tyre strategy
Round four of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) takes place at Sakhir circuit in Bahrain on 14th December. This is the sixth time the circuit has hosted WEC, but it will be the first time that Goodyear has raced at the circuit.
Goodyear is aiming to build on their history-making LMP2 class win at Shanghai last month. The four-hour race in China marked the tyre company’s first win since returning to international motorsport this season. The victory, by the Jota Sport Oreca of Roberto Gonzales, Anthony Davidson and Antonio Felix da Costa, was the first Goodyear win in an FIA World Championship race since the 1998 Italian Grand Prix. On that occasion, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari took the chequered flag at Monza to secure Goodyear’s 368th Grand Prix win at the height of the F1 ‘tyre war’.
Former F1 driver and WEC Champion Davidson said after the win: « It’s great for Goodyear to win their first race in LMP2 and they have shown that they are providing and developing a really good tyre. It’s nice to be a part of that and to have helped engineer that. It was an important day for Goodyear to have shown such speed and consistency. »
Desert challenges await
The 15 turn, 5.412km (3.4 mile) circuit has a granite-based surface that is quite aggressive. Mike McGregor, Manager Sales, Testing & Track Support explained: « Bahrain is very different from the first three circuits of the season. The combination of long straights and tight corners mean that strong braking performance and traction are key to a fast lap. We will take the same A and C specification Goodyear tyres that served us so well in China, but focus on working with our partners on the set-up to maximise the braking stability and acceleration out of low-gear corners. »
The second challenge of this race will be a longer race length. WEC features a range of different race formats from 4h to 24h. This is the first 8-hour race of the season, but from a team strategy perspective, it’s not just a case of repeating the decisions taken in a 4-hour race, as Mike explains: « The factor to consider is that LMP2 cars can do up to 45 minutes between refuelling, so it’s not efficient to divide an 8 hour race into equal length stints. The cooperation between teams and Goodyear is important to decide whether to take advantage of traffic, safety cars or full course yellow flags to gain track position or vital time. We work closely with each team to discuss strategic options, often from lap to lap. »
WEC regulations limit teams to six sets of tyres for the eight-hour race, adding to the strategic conundrum. Another challenge is falling temperatures during the race. The event starts under the desert sun but the last three hours of the race will be held in darkness. A 20c change of track temperature is expected and, as a result, the Goodyear slicks have been designed to be versatile with a wide operating window to work in a variety of climates.
Goodyear’s wet tyres have not been used in competition yet this year, but Mike doesn’t rule out a surprising desert debut: « Bahrain only has around 11-16 days of rain per year, but it is much more likely in December. Whatever the weather, we are ready! »
The race starts at midday on Saturday December 14th and the finish will mark the half-way point of the current WEC season, which then moves to Interlagos (Brazil), Sebring (USA), Spa (Belgium) before the championship finale – the Le Mans 24 hours in June.
Goodyear teams in the FIA World Endurance Championship 8h of Bahrain LMP2 category:
#33 High Class Racing – Anders Fjordbach, Mark Patterson and Kenta Yamashita
#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing – Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Will Stevens
#38 Jota Sport – António Félix da Costa, Roberto González and Anthony Davidson