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THE INSIDE WORD FROM SILVERSTONE

WEC drivers prepare for Silverstone six-hour endurance race with a visit to Tower Bridge

As part of the build-up to the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone (12 – 14 April), seven drivers, accompanied by three of the series’ highly-distinctive racing cars, headed for one of the Capital’s most iconic landmarks, Tower Bridge, to mark the start of the season.

An official photocall saw Alex Brundle (Oak Racing), Darren Turner (Aston Martin Racing), Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane, Danny Watts (all Strakka Racing), Stéphane Sarrazin (Toyota Racing) and John Martin (Delta-ADR), gathered in front of the instantly recognisable attraction.

The drivers and cars attracted plenty of attention as London’s tourists were treated to a taste of the WEC. In addition to the drivers, a stunning sports prototype car - the WEC Honda HPD ARX 03a (Strakka Racing) – and the production-based, yet highly modified, Aston Martin Vantage V8 (Aston Martin Racing) and Ferrari 458 (RAM Racing) from the European Le Mans Series were all lined up on the green by the historic Tower Bridge.

While interacting with the public outside the iconic City Hall beside Tower Bridge, the drivers shared their thoughts ahead of the upcoming race.

Alex Brundle: “It was a great preview event at Potters Field, lots of interest from the public including a lot of school children, which was great to see young faces getting excited about motor sport and being interested by the cars on display, which may inspire them to come and have a watch or even get involved.

“Preparations for the season have gone well for Oak Racing and we’re looking forward to Silverstone as the opening round of the season. We’re hoping to see a lot of British fans at the circuit, it’s a super endurance weekend. As a BRDC Superstar, Silverstone as a circuit is very dear to my heart and with an open paddock over the WEC weekend it would be great to see a lot of excited sportscar fans coming to the circuit to meet the drivers and see the cars in the garages.

“Silverstone is my favourite circuit, I love it. The middle section as it stands now is extremely good and I enjoy driving there. It’s a circuit I feel very comfortable on and I secured pole last year in my LMP2 car there, it’s a privilege to be going back in a few weeks’ time.”

Nick Leventis: “We can’t wait for the opening round of the season at Silverstone, Strakka Racing is based at Silverstone so it really is our home race and we have a lot of home fans. I think going into this season we are the best we - as the three drivers and as a team - have ever been prepared in the last four years, so we are really confident we can get a good result. Silverstone is a circuit we all know really well, Danny, Jonny and I all grew up near there, so we like to call it our second home.”

Danny Watts: “The preview with Tower Bridge as the backdrop was great. With our Le Mans prototype, the Aston Martin and the Ferrari, we had a huge amount of interest from fans and public walking by.

“Preparation for the new season has been going really well, it’ll be nice to get out in the car again after a quiet winter. Silverstone is a big race for us, it’s as much of a home race as a race could be with Strakka being based only half a mile down the road. It’s important to get a good start to the season in terms of getting some points on the board and Silverstone should really suit our car, it’s fast and flowing, although the biggest variable is the weather, it just makes it that bit more exciting for us.”

Jonny Kane: “The event this morning was really good and we’re really looking forward to Silverstone now. It’s really nice to kick off the season at our home race. As a team we are obviously looking to get a good result to start the year off. I always love driving the circuit, it’s a real mix of high speed and low speed so it’s a challenge as a driver to put that perfect lap together, it’s really satisfying if you do a good lap time around Silverstone because there’s lots of different challenges.

“We’ve made some improvements to the car over the winter and hopefully we will have made a step forward. The LPM1 car is a fantastic car to drive, and Silverstone is a great track, so it’s definitely a joy to drive the type of car I’m in on this sort of circuit.

“In the last two or three years the crowds have been really good at Silverstone and anyone that’s been with me in the last few years have really enjoyed it so hopefully there’ll be some good home support for us.”

Darren Turner: “Today was good, we had a great turnout with cars on display and then a press conference back at the Royal Automobile Club at Pall Mall which is always special to see. There is a lot of interest in what we will be doing in a few weeks’ time and it’s great that the first round of WEC is at Silverstone. I only live 10 minutes from the circuit so I will have a lot of friends and family there supporting us, but I have no doubt that the Silverstone round will draw a large crowd with the WEC main race and the Formula 3 and European Le Mans Series as support - it’s a packed weekend of racing.”

John Martin:“Preparations for the season have been going really well. The team and I were new to sportscar racing last year, so we are aiming to build on it this season. We won at Silverstone last year, so our car is well suited to the circuit. The team are based near Silverstone and I also live in Silverstone when I’m over here, so it’s the home-away-from-home circuit for me.

“It’s a very good first round for everyone in the team and it’s a good place to go racing. It’s an amazing circuit and an amazing complex, it’s just really cool!

“I think Silverstone will draw a lot of interest. There aren’t any previous points on the table, it’s a clean sheet for everyone which will make it interesting for fans and teams alike. I think rain, hail or shine it will be a great event and I am really looking forward to it.”

Stéphane Sarrazin: “We know the English passion for motor racing, and winning the Tourist Trophy is an excellent target. We will push for it at Silverstone, and it will be a good battle with Audi. It’s the first race of the year so everybody is very excited. Everyone has worked a lot over the winter at Toyota to improve the car and build on last year. We finished an endurance test last night, did a lot of mileage, more than a Le Man distance and it was the best test for us. We ran also in the wet conditions which could be good for Silverstone, and the car is very good in the wet which is really good. We shook down the car at Silverstone last week and a big test for Toyota, with two cars and we are very motivated for the race like my team mates.

“I like driving at Silverstone a lot. Last year I was in the LMP2 car but I finished second behind the winning car, it was a good fight and I’ve had good races here. So, we will see, we will do our best.”

“The 6 Hours of Silverstone endurance race has attracted over 35 vehicle entries, including 21 Le Mans prototypes, and a host of celebrated drivers of Formula 1 fame, including Allan McNish, Bruno Senna, Kamui Kobayashi, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld, Alexander Wurz and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Advance tickets for the 6 Hours of Silverstone round of the World Endurance Championship are available from just £10 with children going free*.

* ‘Kids go free’: Child tickets are for children aged 15 years and under at the time of the Event. Children using a child ticket must be accompanied by a full paying adult. Each full paying adult may bring up to a maximum of four children.

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