Back in September, I visited the home of British motorsport for the opening round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship, as the Toyota team secured a one-two finish at a rain interrupted 4 Hours of Silverstone. Here’s my thoughts on the event.
Main Image © Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Since the inception of the World Endurance Championship back in 2012, Silverstone has been a mainstay on the calendar, and has often opened the season with some sensational races over the past seven years. This year’s edition of the great race for the tourist trophy proved to be no exception.
Built on an old WW2 airfield, Silverstone’s circuit lends itself to the British countryside, with the county borders of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire running right through the middle of the track. The whole facility is very flat and open, which makes for very blustery conditions almost all year round, so be sure to pack something warm, because it can get rather chilly at any time of the year. Unpredictable weather is the name of the game at Silverstone, so be ready for all eventualities.
If you happen to purchase a weekend ticket, you’ll be treated to a fantastic three days of action, with the highest class of endurance racing in the world also supported by its European Le Mans Series counterpart. Even though the WEC race was dropped to four hours this year after a fan survey last year, you still get eight hours of race action, and that’s even before you add on all the practice and qualifying sessions. In short, the weekend is absolutely jam packed, and for a £50 weekend ticket or £40 Sunday ticket, you’ll be absolutely mad to miss some of the fastest drivers and cars on the planet do battle at the home of British motorsport.
In terms of transport to the circuit, I am rather lucky, as I live just a short one hour’s drive away. If you’re approaching track from the south of England, you have many options. The M40 and M1 are your best bets, but you can also enjoy a more scenic route up through Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Buckingham if you’re in no hurry.
There aren’t many better places to witness motorsport at its most visceral than Silverstone. And what’s more, most of the grandstands are open to all ticket holders on WEC weekend, as individual grandstand tickets are not sold for this event. But wherever you are at the circuit, whether its down at Abbey or Luffield, or even the fast and sweeping corners of Maggots/Becketts, you’ll be treated to some spectacular viewing.
There’s also a fantastic WEC fan zone round the back of the paddock between Club and Abbey corner that offers a wide range of activities that will keep the young ones busy and engaged in the event all day long. Another excellent feature of this weekend is the ability to walk the pitlane before the race starts on Sunday, giving fans the opportunity to meet and greet the drivers before they prepare to do battle. It truly is a unique experience.
As for the race itself on Sunday, it was a bizarre affair, with wind and rain being the order of the day. There’s something special about feeling the rain coming in when watching a live motorsport event, and has the heavens opened, everyone was in a state of confusion as they were running for cover as well as keeping an eye on track activities. It truly was a manic portion of the race that really jumbled up the running order. But eventually it was the two Toyotas that emerged the winners with a dominant 1-2 finish – a fine way to kick off Season 8 of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Everyone could go home happy after a sensational days’ worth of racing.
My final verdict? Silverstone never ceases to amaze me. I live relatively close, so I consider the track to be my second home to whatever event is occurring when I attend. But if you’re thinking of traveling to a track from outside of the UK, the this track simply has to be at the very top end of your bucket list. A fascinating venue steeped in history and mystique. I can’t wait to return next year.