We take a look at the new proposals from the FIA WEC for the upcoming season changes from the end of the 2017 season.
The organisers have been speaking about making the Le Mans 24 hour race the season closer for some time now, so no surprise that this will be the case going forward – the surprise being that in the 2018/19 season WEC will race 4 times around the clock at Le Sarthe. We have to remind ourselves that this is a transitional period and going forward the 48 hours of Le Mans will not feature, and I’m sure you would agree that ending the season in June 2018 would be a bit silly.
Another track to be visited twice will be Spa Francorchamps, bring it on we say! This will be the season opener in 2018 and the penultimate race in 2019. Other tracks remaining on the calendar are Fuji and Shanghai in October and November respectively.
A welcome addition will be a 12-hour race at Sebring Raceway Fl. Now it’s not the traditional Sebring 12 hours as that is being run on the same weekend under the IMSA banner, with the WEC being the main event (in our opinion) following after the pre-show! And yes, it’s a 12-hour race, so how can this be I hear you ask? Well 2 hours after the IMSA race finishes the WEC race will begin… at midnight – how cool is that! We think it will be reminiscent of the Bathurst 12 hours with racing into the daylight.
Logistically we can foresee 1 slight issue, there’s no pit garages at Sebring and the pit lane is built as a “hot pit lane” meaning there is an inner pit wall where teams setup, if major works are required cars go behind the wall – into the paddock effectively. Now another issue may be space, whilst Sebring is expansive the paddock areas are built for say 50 cars and support. In 2017 48 cars took the start of the IMSA race, add into this 35ish WEC cars plus all the support vehicles it might be a bit cramped.
What’s not in the schedule may be the thing that fans look at, Silverstone, Nurburgring, Mexico, CoTA and Bahrain are all seemingly gone from the season, with a TBC in February. This may be a temporary situation whilst the WEC aligns to a winter schedule with Silverstone not being ruled out for a return in the following season.
As for the TBC race in February 2019, if you ask use we would suggest somewhere on the same side of the world as Florida as the WEC are driving costs down by using sea freight going forward some could we see a return to Interlagos in the first 2 weeks of February?
The Prologue remains and returns to Paul Ricard, but with a twist in that teams will be given the opportunity to run for up to 36 hours. Plus, there is an ELMS race pencilled in for the weekend after the prologue which runs during the week before.
On refection, we think that the WEC and ACO have created a very interesting calendar, we have spoken to some drivers and team owners and the comments we have received are on the whole positive “The proposed schedule and the fact it includes 2 Le Mans and the Sebring 12 hours certainly makes it attractive” Weng Sun Mok of Clearwater Racing commented “it also makes sense to spread the budget over a longer period of time”.
Time will tell, but what we can say is that we are already looking at our travel options!