The WEC has seen an enormous spike in fan curiosity this 12 months because of Porsche, Cadillac and Ferrari becoming a member of the burgeoning Hypercar class and increasing a discipline that already included manufacturing unit entries from Toyota and Peugeot. With Alpine, Lamborghini and BMW all on their approach in 2024, plus Aston Martin in ’25, there will probably be no scarcity of main automobile manufacturers contesting the highest tier of the world’s premier sportscar racing championship.
Whereas the present producer increase is unprecedented and has helped kickstart a brand new golden period of sportscar racing, it additionally creates issues for the smaller, lesser-funded groups on the grid. With 5 producers occupying 9 spots between them this 12 months, and Porsche’s clients filling one other two locations, what’s the greatest end an impartial outfit can hope for in opposition to such stiff competitors?
Glickenhaus has already pulled out of WEC subsequent 12 months after failing to search out sponsorship to improve the Pipo-engined 007 LMH that debuted in 2021. The American staff has been absent from the grid since July’s Monza spherical, leaving only one privateer within the Asian leg of the marketing campaign, Vanwall.
Beforehand run beneath the ByKolles title, the plucky German squad has an extended historical past at Le Mans relationship again to its privateer Audi R10 effort in 2009, when it bagged a double high 10 end. However the staff developed a poor popularity within the 2010s with its self-designed CLM P1/01, a automobile that was not solely properly off the tempo of its LMP1 competitors but additionally woefully unreliable regardless of numerous upgrades through the years.
Picture by: Paul Foster
#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Workforce – Vanwall Vandervell 680 – Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Jacques Villeneuve
Taking up the title of Method 1’s first constructors’ championship-winning staff this 12 months has allowed the Colin Kolles-led squad to shed no less than a few of its poor picture, and after some respectable performances with its new Vandervell 680 LMH, it could possibly now declare to have no less than justified its place within the manufacturer-heavy Hypercar class.
Admittedly, it began the season at Sebring on the again foot as a consequence of restricted improvement and testing, with a brake explosion within the following spherical at Portimao and an engine failure at Le Mans solely including to its woes. However Vanwall has seemed to be in a lot better form since then, with an elevated give attention to reliability paying off for the squad.
One key determine within the staff is Esteban Guerrieri, who has been a part of the Vandervell 680 programme since its early phases as a improvement driver. Shifting right into a race position in 2023, Guerrieri stays the one driver to have competed in each race to this point this season for Vanwall, amid a rotating solid of names within the staff’s second and third seats.
This makes him properly positioned to elucidate Vanwall’s progress because the staff returned to WEC at Sebring this 12 months.
Chatting with Motorsport.com at Fuji, Guerrieri claimed that Vanwall’s reliability is “a lot better” in comparison with the beginning of the 12 months and that the staff can now give attention to extracting extra efficiency out of the Vandervell 680.
However whereas he believes that the staff has been making constant progress in numerous areas, Guerrieri conceded that there are nonetheless some structural and operational points that have to be sorted out for Vanwall to maneuver nearer to the entrance.
“As a staff we’re like a small group however very a lot working collectively,” the Argentine advised Motorsport.com/Autosport. “We will be actually constructive to level out the problems that we’re having, and on the similar time we’re sincere about what the precise state of affairs is.
“There are some stuff you can’t change from sooner or later to a different, it is extra like a structural factor that we have to enhance. However we are able to at all times enhance on the operational facet, with the procedures.
“I feel there’s a hole there for enchancment and we’re assessing this and we’re engaged on the path to attempt to maximise the potential that we’re having proper now and with the automobile that we’re having.”
Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images
#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Workforce Vanwall Vandervell 680: Esteban Guerrieri
The highest producers in WEC are spending a fraction of the sums spent through the peak of the LMP1 period within the mid-2010s, with rulemakers having put additional emphasis on preserving prices beneath management whereas formulating the laws for each LMH and LMDh automobiles.
Nonetheless, groups like Vanwall function on even smaller budgets, which makes it more durable for them to place up an excellent combat in opposition to manufacturing unit outfits.
“Assets, principally, that is the most important factor,” stated Guerrieri. “The extra sources you might have, the extra folks, the extra evaluation, the extra preparation earlier than designing or earlier than going to the monitor, like a variety of issues are finished within the workshop…
“With large producers you might have larger budgets and within the workshop they design issues forward. There are a variety of issues.
“However nonetheless in each [form of] motorsport which isn’t one-make, like in F1 you might have large groups and small groups, right here as properly [you have big teams and small teams].
“I do know the aim is to be aggressive and to attempt to combat on the high. Clearly, these days it isn’t achievable, we all know.
“But when the spirit is there and the ambition is there, it’s a must to preserve working, it’s a must to preserve making an attempt. It is clearly a sport which is money-dependent, so that you want sources to make it occur.”
Not like LMP1, the Hypercar class is dictated by a system of Stability of Efficiency, which implies all automobiles within the discipline – whether or not LMH or LMDh – should function in the identical efficiency window.
Nonetheless, privateers like Vanwall and Glickenhaus have typically been seen trundling behind the sector in WEC this 12 months, with a noticeable gulf in efficiency between them and manufacturer-backed entries.
However Guerrieri doesn’t really feel the rulemakers ought to claw again the efficiency of the front-running groups simply to offer the backmarkers a leg up, believing as a substitute the onus is on Vanwall to step up a gear and take the combat to its larger rivals.
Whereas Guerrieri feels a podium end is out of attain for now, Vanwall’s present outcomes usually are not a real reflection of the staff’s potential.
Picture by: Paul Foster
#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Workforce Vanwall Vandervell 680: Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Jacques Villeneuve
“I do not suppose it will be truthful to all of the automobiles to be ‘BoP-ed’ so low to go to the identical potential as a sluggish automobile,” he stated.
“I do not suppose there may be a lot to be finished from the surface. It is quite a bit to be finished from inside and take accountability for making an attempt to work laborious, and belief from the class that they’re doing one of the best they’ll when it comes to equalising automobile potentials.
“For me, motorsport is just not about excuses or about looking for issues exterior. You want to work laborious and for me success is just not solely profitable a race however maximising potential.
“We perceive that our potential is just not for profitable, it isn’t for a podium, but it surely’s a lot better than what we’re having till now and that is what we’re focusing on.”
Vanwall’s future in WEC stays unclear past this 12 months’s season-closing Bahrain 8 Hours finale, the place it should once more be the one Hypercar privateer staff on the grid within the absence of Glickenhaus.
With extra producers on the way in which in 2024, and the brand new LMGT3 class additionally attracting important curiosity, the WEC has to choose and select which groups will probably be allowed an entry on subsequent 12 months’s grid.
Guerrieri hopes he and Vanwall can proceed their chapter in WEC in 2024, when one other small producer, Isotta Fraschini, is planning to affix the category with a pair of hybrid LMH automobiles.
“I wish to stick with Vanwall to work in direction of our targets,” he stated. “It will positively be doable right here, as a result of my ambition can be to work laborious as a driver, as a staff, even being the underdog, to make good issues occur.
“I feel that is very rewarding, so I feel it is one thing in my goal, to maintain working with them and attempt to enhance.”
With Glickenhaus’ exit now confirmed, it will be an awesome disgrace if one other small staff is pressured out of the door. There isn’t a doubt that producers have performed an enormous position in reinvigorating WEC after a interval of lull, however it will be unwise for the collection to lose the allure of privateers and change into too depending on larger names to draw followers by way of the gates.
Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images
#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Workforce Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier