2013 WEC review


Deserving champions?

It would be easy to suggest that Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval claimed the World Endurance Championship courtesy of their success in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Easy, because the maths suggest that it was the case, but it’s not quite that simple.

Reigning champions André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler lost 30 points to their in-house rivals at Audi in the race at Le Mans courtesy of an alternator failure that left them fifth at the finish. Even if they had only ended up second to their team-mates, the extra 16 points would more than cover their 12.75-point deficit to the title-winning duo at the end of the season.

But that is to overlook the other major technical issue sustained by an Audi R18 e-tron quattro in 2013. An input shaft failure at the Bahrain finale on the #2 car cost McNish and co. a minimum of 18 points.

But then you might point out that the induction system blockage that afflicted the Lotterer car at Fuji that resulted in the German and his team-mates scoring just a quarter of a point in the rain-affected race. On the other hand, the lost wheel for Duval at Interlagos arguably cost the #2 victory in Brazil.

And then there’s the balance problem that afflicted the #2 car at Fuji and Shanghai. The drivers talked about it, but it has never fully been explained. It should be noted that it followed a major rebuild of the Audis ahead of the Japanese round.

You can twist the maths whichever way you want to support your own theory on which trio were most deserving of the championship. And the conclusion you reach is that the 2013 WEC was a closely fought affair between two evenly matched crews.

There were races where the McNish car had the edge and races where the Lotterer Audi was faster, and then others where there wasn’t much between them.

The #2 car was the more competitive proposition at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin and Bahrain. The #1 Audi was quicker at Spa, Fuji and Shanghai. And at Silverstone (before the #1 car lost its hybrid boost) and Interlagos they looked pretty much on a par.

The Le Mans 24 Hours

Then, there was Le Mans. The timing screens indicated that Lotterer, Tréluyer and Fässler were much faster, but the eventual fifth-placed crew and the race winners had to drive very different motor races.

The delayed Audi drivers were playing a game of catch-up and drove pedal to the metal from the moment they returned to the track after their 11-lap pit stay starting in the 17th hour. The winners, on whose shoulders Audi’s hopes of victory entirely rested from that point on, had to make sure they brought their car home ahead of the Toyotas. So for McNish, Kristensen and Duval it was very much mission accomplished.

The top 20 in the championship standings

1. MCNISH A. 162
1. DUVAL L. 162
2. LOTTERER A.149.25
2. TRÉLUYER B. 149.25
2. FÄSSLER M. 149.25
3. DAVIDSON A. 106.25
3. BUEMI S. 106.25
3. SARRAZIN S. 106.25
4. WURZ A. 69.5
4. LAPIERRE N. 69.5
5. BECHE M. 63.5
6. PROST N. 60
7. MARTIN J. 53
7. CONWAY M. 53
7. RUSINOV R. 53
9. DI GRASSI L. 45
9. GENÉ M. 45
9. JARVIS O. 45
10. BAGUETTE B. 44.5
10. PLOWMAN M. 44.5
10. GONZALEZ R. 44.5
11. BRUNDLE A. 42
11. PLA O. 42
12. NAKAJIMA K. 37.5
13. BELICCHI A. 36.5
14. KAFFER P. 29
15. WATTS D. 22
15. KANE J. 2
15. LEVENTIS N. 22
16. JANI N. 21
17. WIRDHEIM B. 18
18. CHENG C. 17
19. GRAVES T. 17
20. WALKER J. 13

What changed in 2013?

The 2013 season marked a return to form for veterans McNish and Kristensen after two difficult seasons. The arrival of Duval as their full-season team-mate perhaps played a part in re-invigorating them, but just as important was the stable platform from which they had to work.

Think back to 2012, and you might remember that McNish and Kristensen were continually switching between the Audi R18 e-tron quattro and the R18 ultra. They went from hybrid to non-hybrid and back to hybrid again from the point that the two definitive 2012-spec cars were introduced for round two at Spa. What’s more, they had three different engineers over the course of the season.

It wasn’t the kind of solid base from which you would want to launch a bid for a world title and McNish and Kristensen worked hard over the winter to correct the situation.

There’s also a theory that McNish and Kristensen took longer than their younger team-mates to adapt to the demands of the closed cockpit Audi. If you think that sounds a bit strange, it is worth mentioning that the idea originated from inside the Audi camp.

The greatest sports car drivers of their generation

McNish and Kristensen are clearly nearer to the end of their careers than the beginning, so there might not be many chances left for them to win a world title, even if they will be back with Audi next year. It can only be fitting that the two greatest sportscar drivers of their generation, and two of the best of all time, should be able to add the words “world” and “champion” to their already bulging CVs.

They’ve won just about everything else in Le Mans rules sports car racing, so it would have been somehow wrong if they didn’t win the world championship, even if came along in the twilight of their careers.

Don’t miss our podcast with Allan McNish

Read more sports car content
McNish: guest editor and World Champion
Roebuck’s Legends: Brian Redman
Reader event with Stirling Moss

motogp race  What might happen in MotoGP at Valencia

You may also like