WEC returns in 2023 for another season of top-level endurance racing. In the LMP2 class, Goodyear provides a single-specification each of slick and wet tyres for use throughout the season at a wide variety of circuits.
In 2022, Goodyear decided to remove the intermediate tyre from the range to reduce the total number of tyres used during a race weekend. This was only possible as Goodyear had widened the operating window of both the dry and the wet tyres by using a more versatile compound and tyre design than before.
Now, removing tyre warmers is another step towards making the championship more sustainable, while also providing a new challenge for the teams to navigate.
This season will visit seven circuits on three continents, starting at the historic Sebring Raceway on 17th March before finishing under the lights of Bahrain on 4th November. While most circuits on the calendar have similar historical significance, the challenges posed to drivers, teams and tyres couldn’t be more varied.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans, celebrating its centenary this year, features the challenge of running late into the night and where stint management could be the difference between winning and losing. Meanwhile, the heat of Bahrain poses a different set of challenges with track temperatures that could be in excess of 50 °C.
Moving away from tyre warmers
The biggest rule change facing drivers this year is the removal of tyre warmers. Prompted by plans to make the championship more sustainable, it’s set to have a dramatic impact on the on-track action.
Mike McGregor, Endurance Program Manager, Goodyear Racing, explains how the rule change will affect races: “It’s an exciting new challenge for drivers and teams to get a handle on. From our perspective, it’s likely to mix up the field from race to race and increase strategic opportunities.
“The effect of this rule change will differ dramatically from circuit to circuit. In warmer climates such as Sebring and Bahrain, tyres should reach their optimal operating window within two laps. However, in colder races there will be a more considerable difference. Drivers will need to balance overdriving the tyres in the first few laps as pressures stabilise.
“The surface of the tyre will be more important to manage during the opening laps, and with the total allocation unchanged since last year, the first few laps of tyre warm-up will be crucial, as this has a huge impact on tyre pressure and, ultimately, how much grip a driver feels. During races, the overcut will be more powerful, as too will be extending stints to decrease the number of pitstops needed, particularly at Le Mans.”
As a result of the rule changes, Goodyear and the FIA will introduce minimum tyre pressures and maximum camber angles to educate teams on how to improve tyre management. This is intended to ensure teams cannot go too aggressive with setup in pursuit of quicker tyre warm-up.
NASCAR set to return to Le Mans with Garage 56
The worlds of NASCAR and endurance racing will join together at the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. Garage 56 is reserved as a single-entry class for innovative technology. This allows the Le Mans organisers to showcase creativity by allowing a future-thinking project to race alongside the diverse grid of prototype and GT cars.
For 2023, Goodyear is collaborating with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet in developing an endurance-ready version of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR. The project combines the team, manufacturer and tyre with the most wins in NASCAR’s 75-year history, to race in the French endurance classic on 10-11 June.
NASCAR has announced three world-class drivers to race the modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, former Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.