Just two weeks after round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Mexico comes round six, just across the American border in Austin, Texas, and this is a race Andy Priaulx is particularly looking forward to, as it is a track he knows well and really enjoys driving on.
As Andy and team mate Harry Tincknell head back across the pond for the event they still lead the GT FIA Endurance Drivers’ Championship, although they know they cannot be complacent as their lead is just eight points. Commenting on the championship battle the Ford Chip Ganassi driver said: “We have fought all year to get this lead in the championship, we are not going to give it up easily and are very positive about our chances in Austin.”
Looking back at the previous races and forward to the next ones, he said: “I am really looking forward to Austin, as we have had our two toughest tracks – the Nürburgring and Mexico – and Austin is definitely more suited to our car. Then after that we head to Fuji and Shanghai, two tracks where we will definitely be a lot more competitive.”
Austin, or Circuit of the Americas to give it its full title, is relatively new and the first race run there was the 2012 United States Grand Prix. Andy, who has previously raced there in the IMSA series, has a lot of affection for it: “It is a track I love and I have spent a lot of time there. It is a superb facility. This will be our last time there, as in the new look 2018/2019 season the WEC will be racing in Sebring. While I will miss Austin, Sebring is another great American track where I really enjoy racing, so I will be looking forward to that.”
The first time Andy and Harry will be out on the 3.427 mile (5.513 kilometre) circuit, that is 12 miles south of Austin, in their number 67 Ford GT will be on Thursday (14 September) from 12.00 to 13.30 for FP1. This is followed by FP2 from 16.30 to 18.00. On Friday FP3 is from 10.00 to 11.00 and qualifying for the LMGTE Pro class is from 15.05 to 15.25. The six hour race, which is known as the Lone Star Le Mans, will start at 12.00 on Saturday. All these times are local and six hours behind BST.
Although there was no WEC race this weekend, that doesn’t mean Andy was not in action. On Saturday he was at the Goodwood Revival Meeting racing alongside Theo Paphitis, from the tv programme Dragons’ Den, in a 1958 Ford Zodiac.