- FIA WEC 2018/2019 Calendar
- ELMS 2018 Calendar
- Le Mans Cup 2018 Calendar
- AsLMS 2018 Calendar
- IMSA 2018 Calendar
The FIA WEC has announced significant changes to the 2018/2019 ‘Super Season’ transitional calendar. The 2018/2019 WEC calendar is designed to move the FIA WEC into a winter season pattern, but the announcement was met with significant resistance. Fans and teams alike appeared unhappy with some of the changes. To the WECs credit, they have listened to the feedback from inside and outside the paddock, and quickly made major changes to the calendar.
Silverstone returns to WEC Calendar
Firstly, Silverstone has returned to the WEC Calendar. The social media feedback was pretty clear – dropping Silverstone was not a popular move. The event was a fan favourite, and a bit of a British Sportscar Festival with ELMS on Saturday and WEC on Sunday. That format will return, as WEC has re-introduced Silverstone, but for August 19th. ELMS will run on Saturday, a day before WEC.
The “TBA” race which was pencilled in for January or February 2019 has been cancelled, with that slot moving to August for Silverstone. The TBA race was originally listed as January, but moved to February after feedback from teams who were involved in the January Daytona 24 Hours. That slot is now eliminated for the 2018/2019 calendar.
The WEC was looking at Kuwait for an event, but the move to the winter calendar has put that on the back burner. The now cancelled TBA event was hinted at being an American event. Mexico and Interlagos were in the frame for filling this slot. A deal could not be made for these circuits, and Silverstone returned.
Asian races shuffle backwards
The Fuji and Shanghai races are both being moved a week later than the original dates. Fuji is now scheduled for the 21st of October, and Shanghai is now the 18th of November. The 6 Hours of Fuji original date proved problematic as it clashed with the IMSA Petit Le Mans. Whilst no calendar is perfect, and clashes will happen, clashing with Petit Le Mans was always going to be met with resistance. The move of the Fuji race by a week allows any WEC team to compete in the entire IMSA North American Endurance Championship.
Eyebrows were raised over the inclusion of WEC in the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend. Whilst most considered it a step up from COTA, the running of the WEC 12 Hours of Sebring just 2 hours after the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring seemed problematic.
The race was schedule to start at midnight, just 2 hours after the IMSA race finished. This only allowed 2 hours for the IMSA paddock to clear out of pit lane, and the WEC paddock to setup. Concerns were also raised over the potential state of the track, with limited time for cleaning after the IMSA event.
The WEC has now said that whilst the race weekend will occur, changes may be made for logistical reasons. The WEC race could be reduced to 8 or 10 hours, but will be longer than 6 hours. It may also started later, giving the crews longer to switch from the IMSA setup to the WEC setup.
Listening to feedback
Clearly, the WEC is listening to fan feedback. The dropping of Silverstone, the Petit Le Mans clash, and the logistical issues of Sebring were the 3 major concerns with the 2018/2019 ‘Super Season’ calendar. Less than 2 weeks later, the WEC has addressed 2 out of these 3, and is working on the Sebring logistical problem.
Many, including myself, have said that the ACO/WEC does not listen to the fans, so this sort of change is quite significant. Furthermore, the FIA WEC is launching a fan survey in conjunction with Motorsport.com to ask for fan feedback.
We’re currently experiencing a golden age of sportscar racing. Strong manufacturer backed GTE grids in Europe and the US, strong customer racing in ACO, IMSA and SRO competition, and a brand new growing Prototype class in the US. Granted, LMP1 is struggling, but that’s the exception that proves the rule – Sportscar racing is strong right now.
The downside of the strong state of the industry is the amount of races that clash with one another. Formula E is a growing problem for WEC due to the amount of drivers that race in both series, but they have worked to avoid this. The other series that WEC should avoid is IMSA. With technology shared in the form of GTE/GTLM and LMP2, teams often move between the two series. The Fuji/Petit Le Mans clash with significant, but that has now been avoided.
Critics will point out that the WEC Calendar changes may now clash with SRO events, which could impact on some drivers. But unfortunately there isn’t going to be a perfect calendar, and avoiding Formula E and IMSA should remain the WECs priority.
Whilst the Super Season is now sorted, we have to wait another 18 months to find out what the new format WEC calendars are going to look like. The August date for Silverstone cannot be considered permanent, as it doesn’t have an off-season break. An ideal solution would be to move WEC Silverstone to September, along with ELMS, and make it the first round of the calendar. Fuji could be moved to November, and Shanghai mid to early December, which shortens the break over the winter. There is an issue around Christmas, but that’s a problem that’s always going to exist with a winter calendar.
The return of Silverstone may have an effect on the Le Mans Cup calendar as well. The series currently doesn’t race at Silverstone, but was surely set to for 2018 as the original intention was ELMS as the headline series. Could we get WEC, ELMS and Le Mans Cup all in a single weekend at Silverstone? The ELMS and Le Mans Cup Calendars are to be announced at Spa in a weeks time.
The new winter season also opens doors to the Asian Le Mans Series becoming a support event. The AsLMS currently races at Fuji in December, but could that appear on the Fuji, or even Shanghai, support bill? The ELMS/WEC double-header at Silverstone has been a success, so would this be something the AsLMS could consider?