A 15-month FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season comes to an end this weekend with the 8 Hours of Bahrain, and Goodyear is looking forward to an important dawn of a new era while concentrating on the challenges that lie ahead in the desert.
Saturday’s race at Bahrain International Circuit will mark the end of a season that has been an important and rewarding return to top-level international endurance racing for Goodyear. The brand reentered the arena when the 2019-20 season began at Silverstone on 1 September 2019 and has since competed in the LMP2 class through 58 intense hours of racing. A further eight hours await Goodyear’s partner teams on Saturday.
As usual, Goodyear will supply Eagle F1 SuperSport race tyres to Jota Sport and Jackie Chan DC Racing. Both teams race 600 hp Oreca 07 Gibsons in the LMP2 class. This category is the only class in WEC with an open tyre competition, allowing Goodyear to prove its expertise and product against the competition, but this changes for next year. From the start of the 2021 season, Goodyear will be the exclusive tyre supplier to the LMP2 category in both WEC and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
For this final race of the season, Goodyear is bringing its A (soft) and B (medium) spec dry tyre compounds to tackle the mixed conditions. With sunset at around 17:00 local time, and the race running from 14:00 to 22:00, the changing track and ambient temperatures will produce a varying set of challenges for teams, as explained by Mike McGregor, Goodyear’s Endurance Programme Manager:
“We expect the track temperature to drop by around 15ºC between the extreme desert heat of the day and cool evening. Managing this will be key to performance in the second half of the race, and we’ll be working very closely with our teams to help them maximise their pace. We’d expect to start the race on the medium B-spec tyre and move over to the softer A-spec as the track cools down, but if it stays warmer towards the end, which means degradation is higher, there’s a possibility that teams might stay on the medium compound for the whole race. We’ll work with our teams to try both compounds during Free Practice to get a better idea of the performance windows.”
Jota Sport and Jackie Chan DC Racing are second and fifth in the championship standings. While the championship has already been won, the two Goodyear teams are within reach of taking second and third in the final standings on Saturday.
Preparing for a new era in LMP2
The entire Goodyear Racing team is extremely excited for 2021, when Goodyear becomes the exclusive tyre supplier to LMP2 in WEC and ELMS. Goodyear is always proud of its exclusive supply contracts, whether they be in WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, PURE ETCR, NASCAR or a whole host of other championships and classes, but LMP2’s open tyre formula has allowed Goodyear to prove its product directly against the competition.
Because of this, Goodyear has had some excellent results to celebrate this season in WEC. In the 4 Hours of Shanghai a year ago, Jota Sport’s win was Goodyear’s first international race victory in open competition. Then at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in September, Goodyear teams placed second and third – scoring a double podium despite being outnumbered on the entry list three to one.
Results like this have made Goodyear’s first WEC season a memorable one, and set the company up for an even bigger programme next year, when it will supply tyres to every single LMP2 car in WEC, ELMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
McGregor adds: “After Bahrain, we’ll be in a new era, a new world. It’s very exciting to have all the LMP2 cars moving onto Goodyear. It will be a challenge having so many more cars, but we’re prepared for it, and Le Mans in particular is going to be great for us. For our first year back in racing internationally, we’ve had some amazing results. Our double podium at Le Mans and the historic win at Shanghai were a testament to the hard work and dedication of the design and development team. I’d like to say a massive thank you to Sam Hignett and David Clark, and everyone else at Jota and Jackie Chan DC Racing for supporting our return. Without them, it wouldn’t have been the same.”
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