This weekend (14/15/16th April) sees the eagerly anticipated opening round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship, taking place at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone.
After being awarded the event late last year, the British Automobile Racing Club increases its presence on the world stage by working as organisers for the inaugural event of the year.
With a glittering array of jaw-dropping machines and high-profile drivers, this years WEC campaign is set to be the most intriguing to-date.
Despite the withdraw of Audi, two of the biggest manufacturers on the planet, Porsche and Toyota, will fight it out on-track for victory.
Porsche come into the event with a heavily revised driver line-up. Reigning World Champion Neel Jani is joined by former Audi driver, Andrè Lottere and 2015 Le Mans winner Le Mans winner Nick Tandy.
Tandy’s teammate from the 2015 Le Mans win, Earl Bamber, replaces the retiring Mark Webber in the number two Porsche, as the German manufacturer looks to retain the Drivers and Manufacture championship for the third year running.
They will face strong competition from Toyota – who will look to bounce back after the previous two difficult years. The Japanese brand also has a change in driver line-up as three-time World Touring Car Champion, José Maria López, replaces Stéphane Sarrazin in the number seven car.
GTE-Pro sees the return of an eager Porsche, who have returned with a full factory effort in what is sure to be an intense battle for the championship. The Stuttgart-based marque will face a difficult fight as the category is full of manufacturer backing.
Aston Martin returns on the back of a triumphant 2016, which saw Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen claim the driver's title. The British brand will be looking to claim the manufacturers’ championship after being beaten by Ferrari last year. The Italian brand are represented by AF Corse alongside two of Britain’s finest drivers who lead this year’s charge, James Calado and Sam Bird.
Finally, Ford is back with the elegant Ford GT. Returning to the sport in 2016, they claimed victory at Le Mans with their first attempt. Now with all four full-time drivers returning in 2017, the American manufacturer must have their eyes firmly on the championship this season.
The championship also has a strong showing with 10 LMP2’s and five full season entry’s in GTE – AM.
The event also sees the first round of the European Le Man’s Series. Since being rebranded in 2013, the championship has gone from strength-to-strength and sees 35 teams battle it out in the opening round.
FIA F3 is back once again too with some of Europe’s top young racing drivers duking it out. 2017 sees the exciting addition of Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time Formula One World Champion Michel Schumacher. Likely to be a contender, the German will face tough opposition with the likes of Lando Norris, Harrison Newey and Jake Dennis all flying the flag for Britain.
Finally, there is a new addition to this timetable with the World Series Formula V8 3.5 joining the line-up. The championship becomes the official feeder series to the World Endurance Championship this year.