By the time you read this, the Austin, Texas round of the FIA World Endurance Championship would have concluded and the WEC’s near three month break after the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be history as Toyota, Audi and Porsche resume their battle for dominance.
In what can only be seen as a good thing for endurance racing, the famous German marque Porsche returned to the top category of the WEC this year as a factory team to mark a period of growth for the WEC that has been through a slew of guises since the 1970s when its popularity used to rival and sometimes beat that of Formula 1.
Part of the reason was the aesthetically pleasing machines that could lap as fast, if not faster, than most of the F1 grid that were piloted by the same names who would battle for the F1 title.
While the days of multi-tasking for a top line professional racing driver are not coming back any time soon, there have been some notable ex-F1 drivers who have been drafted by a manufacturer in order to give it bragging rights over its rivals.
Porsche, for instance, has former F1 race winner and title contender Mark Webber as one of its drivers while Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson drive for Toyota.
None of these drivers see racing in the WEC as a step down from F1 as the cars they drive are fast, technologically cutting edge and the rivalry with other marques fierce.
And this year even reigning champions and winners of this year’s Le Mans winners Audi can claim to have a driver in its ranks with F1 experience.
At this year’s Belgian Grand Prix, Andre Lotterer could add F1 on his racing CV that includes a decade of single seat racing in Japan and two wins at Le Mans (including this year).
The combination of experienced drivers, technical freedom in the regulations (to an extent) and well organised categories has made for an intriguing season so far.
It all started at a very wet Six Hours of Silverstone where Toyota came out on top and took the first two podium positions with Porsche taking third.
The shock of seeing Audi locked out from the top three was somewhat mitigated by the knowledge that they had been having trouble with their F1-style exhaust-based Energy Recovery System that Porsche had managed to successfully implement. But to the casual motorsport follower it was still a notable shake up in the pecking order.
The squad from Ingolstadt managed second place at the next round at Spa-Francorchamps but was flanked by Toyota who took first and third.
Buoyed by how their season had kicked off, the Japanese squad headed to Le Mans fully confident of clinching the big win, the one that would justify their WEC participation.
But against all odds it was Toyota and returnees Porsche who fell by the wayside with mechanical gremlins as the two Audi teams that had retired from the opening round at Silverstone took the top two spots at the famous French race.
Winning when it counts
As Porsche themselves will testify, it all comes down to winning at Le Mans. Back in 1998 when the premier championship in endurance racing was the FIA GT1 Championship, the factory Mercedes – for whom one of the drivers was a certain Mark Webber - team swept to the title winning every single round.
However, their GT1 title counted for little as Porsche got the bragging rights for that year by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans that existed outside the GT1 season calendar.
The faster cars over four or six hour events that took the glory over the rest of the season were unable to go the distance.
Which is what Toyota and Porsche will be very aware of as they see out the rest of the long and gruelling WEC season.