March 22, 2023

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Kvyat in the World Endurance Championship: what will his car be like? Are there any chances to win

February brought great news to Russian motorsport fans: Russia’s most successful Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat is back in international racing! In 2023, he will ride in the WEC World Endurance Championship in the highly competitive LMP2 monoclass for the Italian Prema team .

WEC is highly rated in the world, because its winner receives the status of world champion, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans marathon is generally legendary, but in Russia the series is not as famous as Formula 1 or even NASCAR. Let’s get acquainted with the world where Kvyat plunges!

The World Endurance Championship is one of the six world championships in motor racing (the others are the rally, rally-raid, rallycross, F-1 and Formula E championships). The season includes seven stages (minimum 6-hour races) on well-known tracks in Monza, Spa, Le Mans, at the foot of Mount Fuji and elsewhere. The longest races are the 1000 miles of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the championship final, the 8 Hours of Bahrain.

There are four classes in the WEC, each with its own champion. Conventionally, the series can be divided into three leagues. The “lower” category includes LMGTE Am, an amateur class of GTE class sports cars. Here they race the familiar Porsche 911, Ferrari 488 and Aston Martin Vantage. “Major League” – hypercars: 7 manufacturers have already gathered them. And the LMP2 monoclass is a championship of inexpensive and very cool prototypes that has developed over the years.

Kvyat will go in the LMP2 category – equal prototypes with 600 hp engines. They are the closest to racing old school in the WEC.

The LMP2 category is very intense and spectacular. Only independent teams participate here – no factory teams or suppliers. The teams use the French chassis Oreca 07, Gibson 8-cylinder engine with 600 hp. and spend no more than 483,000 euros on a car.

The sports director and driver of the Russian G-Drive Racing team, Roman Rusinov, spoke about the LMP2 like this: “These are real old-school racing cars. Atmospheric 600-horsepower V8 engines, advanced aerodynamics, wide wheels. No electric motors and hybrid installations, as in the same Formula 1. Therefore, LMP2 is a real serious motorsport.”

Kvyat will ride in the Italian team Prema, one of the most successful organizations in the history of the youth series from the Italian and German F4 to F2 titles with Mick Schumacher and McLaren newcomer Oscar Piastri. Now Prema is expanding into adult motorsport: after finishing second at Le Mans in 2022, they entered two cars in the WEC for 2023. Kvyat got into crew No. 63 – he got teammate Mirko Bortolotti (F-2 champion and winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona and a very fast partner, 19-year-old Dorian Pin (Ferrari Challenge Trofeo champion – racing Ferrari GT3 cars, in the same season, former F-1 driver Adrian Sutil drove against her).

Who is Kvyat’s rivals? 10 crews – 2 Alpin factory cars on their own chassis (but made according to the same regulations as Oreca), two crews of the strongest American team United Autosport (owned by McLaren chief Zack Brown), a British Jota car, two crews of one from the strongest teams of the German DTM WRT and a few less formidable ones.

Last year there were even 15 crews, and it was Jota who took the title.

This year, she goes to hypercars with the best line-up, but also leaves one crew in LMP2 – Haas reservist Pietro Fittipaldi, 2014 Le Mans champion and winner David Heinmeier-Hansson and promising 22-year-old Oliver Rasmussen (third place at Le Mans last year).

But the most dangerous rival is probably WRT – their car took second place in the WEC in 2022, and now one of their crews has the most formidable line-up on paper: former F-1 driver Robert Kubica, former F-2 junior , Renault and Haas Luis Delétraz and 2022 one-race winner Rui Andrade. And this is the composition of the second crew has not been announced!

The third most dangerous rival is United Autosport. She often trains in the American counterparts of the WEC (IMSA), and in 2022 she took third in the LMP2 standings. Her approach is equal compositions of approximately comparable drivers of a strong level: in one car they have three-time Daytona winner, world and European Le Mans series champion Filipe Albuquerque, another Daytona winner Ben Hanley and world champion, Europe and Le Mans in the United Phil Hanson, and in the second – the former F-1 driver Guido van der Garde, vice-champion of the Euro-threes and IMSA winner in the fastest prototypes Tom Blomkvist and IMSA champion, two-time vice- world champion and Le Mans winner Oliver Jarvis. Very strong and stable compositions!

You should also be wary of Alpin with its factory program: in one car, she announced completely experienced and winning championships and Le Mans pilots (Mathieu Vashivier, Julien Canal, Charles Milesi), and in the second – a member of the program under ” F-1″ by Ollie Caldwell (who disappointed in the youth team), multiple Daytona and European Le Mans winner Memo Rojas and last year’s vice-champion of the world in the hypercar program André Negrán.

Nevertheless, Kvyat really has every chance of winning both the championship and Le Mans: his team is quite experienced, he himself is currently one of the most successful racers in his class (although not yet in the WEC ), and equal cars direct potential competition towards teams’ ability – and their selection of prototype setups, strategy development, driver change plans and multiple pit stops. Here “Prema” may not yet be the most experienced in endurance racing, but the organization has thousands of hours and kilometers of rolling in similar “monoseries” championships.