FIA World Endurance Championship opens up with 6 Hours of Silverstone

The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) kicks off its 2016 season this weekend from famed Silverstone, the historic British racing circuit just outside the Northamptonshire villages of Silverstone and Whittlebury. FOX Sports offers multi-platform coverage of the 6 Hours of Silverstone, hosted by veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha (@BobVarsha) and Calvin Fish (@CalvinFish), beginning Sunday, April 17 (7:00 a.m. ET) on FS1. 

"This is a great time to be a sports car fan, and I’m thrilled to be a part of our efforts to bring the very best to our audience," Varsha said. "Silverstone opens the fifth season of the World Endurance Championship: eight 6-hour races, including Circuit of the Americas in Texas come September, with many of the stars of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in June." 

Built on the site of a World War II Royal Air Force bomber station, the Silverstone circuit is set to host 32 WEC entries representing 12 nations: Germany (6), Austria (1), Japan (2), Switzerland (2), Russia (3), USA (4), China (1), France (2), Mexico (1), Great Britain (6), Italy (3) and Hong Kong (1). 

"The marquee class is LMP-1, where the ‘swoopy’ prototype cars are allowed even less fossil fuel than last year, yet still crank out about 1,000 horsepower thanks to exotic hybrid technology," Varsha said. "Porsche dominated last year’s world titles, including a one-two sweep at Le Mans, but now the stakes have been raised. Porsche’s champions Mark Webber, Timo Bernard and Brendon Hartley will use an updated 919 Hybrid racecar to defend against the "old guard" of former champions Audi and Toyota, each of which has produced a totally redesigned machine for an all-out assault. Privateer teams Rebellion and ByKolles will be the focus of every fan who loves an underdog. 

"The biggest class is LMP-2, similar to the front-running prototypes of the IMSA WeatherTech series, where Extreme Speed Motorsports has already swept overall victories at Daytona and 

Sebring this year, and produced a sensational new driving star in 22-year-old Brazilian Pipo Derani," Varsha added. "Now Florida-based ESM will add a second car to engage with nine international rivals, hoping to bring a prototype championship to the United States for the first time since the days of the Ford GT40s. 

"Speaking of Ford, the Blue Oval is the headline in the GTE Pro class as they try to channel the spirit of the GT40 with their new GT model in the hands of super-successful Chip Ganassi Racing," Varsha said. "Young American Billy Johnson has earned the drive of a lifetime, and he’ll have a big learning curve on unfamiliar circuits as he joins veteran pros Marino Franchitti, Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla to challenge Ferrari, Porsche and Aston-Martin. GTE Am will feature similar production-based cars, and while the idea is that the GTE Am crews are less experienced than the Pros, there are plenty of recognizable names and factory stars among the driver lineups." 

FOX Sports begins coverage from Silverstone on FS1, before moving to FS2 for the conclusion. The entire race is available live through FOX Sports GO. 

"Winning at Silverstone will be at the top of every team’s agenda," Varsha added. "But equally important both in England and the 6 Hours of Spa that follows in Belgium will be preparing for the big one: Le Mans, where the Ford/Ganassi effort will swell to four cars, Corvette Racing will arrive from the USA to defend their 2015 class win, Extreme Speed will likely be a factor in LMP-2, and more than a half-dozen IMSA WeatherTech teams will take on the world in the biggest sports car extravaganza on the planet." 

2016 FOX Sports WEC live television schedule (all times ET and subject to change; all races available in their entirety thru FOXSportsGO — checking on this):

* April 17 — 6 Hours of Silverstone (FS1, 7:00 AM to 9 AM; FS2, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM) 

* May 7 — 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (FS1, 8:30 AM to 9:00 AM; FS2, 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM) 

* June 18 — 24 Hours of Le Mans 

o FS1 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM 

o FS2 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM 

o FS2 6:00 PM to 6:30 PM 

o FS2 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM 

o FS2 10:30 PM to 5:30 AM (June 19) 

o FS1 5:30 AM to 9:30 AM (June 19) 

* July 24 — 6 Hours of Nurburgring (FS1, 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM) 

* Sept. 4 — 6 Hours of Mexico (FS2, 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM) 

* Sept. 17 — 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas (FS2, 6:00 PM to Midnight) 

* Oct. 15 — 6 Hours of Fuji (FS2, 12:30 AM to 4:00 AM) 

* Nov. 5 — 6 Hours of Shanghai (FS2, 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM; FS1, 2:00 AM to 5:00 AM) 

* Nov. 19 — 6 Hours of Bahrain (FS1, 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM) 

For more information on the event, please visit: http://www.fiawec.com/races/6-hours-of-silverstone.html. To follow the event on Twitter: @FIAWEC, @SilverstoneUK, @FOXSports, #WEConFOX.

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