The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) was the stage for an impressive charge to podium positions for both Goodyear LMP2 teams.
The Texas circuit hosted the fifth round of the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Goodyear entered the weekend leading the class with the Jackie Chan DC Racing team with drivers Gabriel Aubry, Will Stevens and Ho-Pin Tung. The other Goodyear entry, Jota Sport, were looking to repeat their Shanghai win with the line-up of Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez.
An eventful first half-hour at the Texas F1 circuit saw Stevens running strongly in fourth place but he was tapped into a spin by fellow former Caterham F1 driver, Giedo Van Der Garde, dropping him to the back of the pack. This, coupled with a slow start for the Jota car, meant that the Goodyear-shod duo had to face a five and a half hour fightback from the tail of the LMP2 field.
In the middle part of the race, Tung and Gonzalez made strong contributions to the relentless comeback charges of both teams. After two and a half hours the pair had utilised the strong consistency of their Goodyear tyres to rise into top-three positions, recovering strongly from their earlier delays. This climb back through the field was consolidated by their teammates in the closing stages of the race. At the flag, Jackie Chan DC Racing took second place, followed home by Jota Sport.
Championship battle lights up
The Jota Sport third place in the race meant the team also overtook Racing Team Nederland in the LMP2 championship table. Both Goodyear cars are now placed in the top three of the season rankings with three races of the 2019/20 season remaining.
Tyre consistency key to podium finish
Windy and cool conditions, combined with a resurfaced track, meant that performance was difficult to predict before the race. Nevertheless, progress in technology in the only ‘tyre war’ class of WEC meant qualifying times were a mammoth five seconds faster than on the last visit to COTA three years ago.
Both teams chose to use Goodyear’s softest A-spec compound throughout the race. This was Goodyear’s first-ever race event at COTA and the soft tyre performed strongly throughout. WEC regulations limit teams to use just 18 tyres throughout both qualifying and a six-hour race, so double-stinting (where teams don’t change tyres at fuel stops) was key to the podium result. Mike McGregor, Manager Race Sales, Testing & Track Support explains: « The A-spec tyre proved to be the right choice. We saw consistent performance throughout each stint. We learnt a lot here to build on the result ahead of the next race. COTA was new to Goodyear, but we have a lot of data from testing at Sebring. We expect a strong race there. »
The COTA event was Goodyear’s first FIA World Championship race on US soil since the 1991 Phoenix Grand Prix. On that day, Ayrton Senna took both pole position and victory for McLaren-Honda. Goodyear’s international comeback season stays Stateside with the classic Sebring circuit in Florida hosting the next WEC race on March 20th.
FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 Top Five season standings : 1. United Autosport, 94 points ; 2. Jackie Chan DC Racing, 90 pts (Goodyear) ; 3. Jota Sport, 77 pts (Goodyear) ; 4. Racing Team Nederland, 76 pts ; 5. Signatech Alpine, 64 pts…