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Sebring WEC Race Moves to Friday in Revised 1000-Mile Format

2019 FIA WEC race at Sebring moves to Friday, shortens to 1,000 miles…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

The FIA World Endurance Championship round at Sebring has been moved to Friday, in a change of the weekend format that will see the race reduced from 1,500 to 1,000 miles and construction of a dedicated pit lane.

In a joint announcement issued on Wednesday, officials from the WEC and IMSA confirmed that the 1000 Miles of Sebring will now take place on Friday March 15, 2019, prior to the start of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday morning, which remains as originally scheduled.

Initially, the sixth round of the 2018-19 season was due to get underway around 12 a.m. on Sunday following the completion of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round.

It will now run to 1,000 miles or a maximum of eight hours, beginning Friday afternoon.

The WEC will make use of a separate, newly installed pit lane adjacent to the Ulmann Straight, allowing a smoother, faster transition between on-track sessions for the different championships.

Its paddock will run concurrently to the IMSA paddock, which remains in its current location, towards Turn 16, with a test day for WEC teams to be held in the run-up to the race weekend.

The changes comes after a visit to the historic airfield circuit by a delegation of WEC officials last month, which included CEO Gerard Neveu, logistics, marketing and media staff.

“Everyone went in to the meeting with a willingness to find a solution which worked well for all of us, knowing that some flexibility would be required on both sides, and the key points such as the schedule and the pit lane and paddock were agreed very quickly,” Neveu said.

“We would like to sincerely thank Scott Atherton and all his team at IMSA, Wayne Estes and his staff at Sebring Raceway for the co-operation, flexibility and positive attitude they displayed throughout the recent weekend.

“We received a very warm welcome, had many meetings while in Florida, and a lot of the logistical bumps have already been smoothed out ready for the WEC’s visit next year.”

Details on the full weekend schedule and slate of support series have yet to be announced.

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, which will be known as the Michelin SportsCar Challenge beginning next year, typically runs its race on the Friday afternoon, following WeatherTech Championship qualifying.

“There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the initial announcement of this combined event, but we always believed we could all find solutions to the many questions and challenges that needed to be addressed to host two world-class events on one weekend,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said. “And that’s exactly what we did.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we know this spirit of cooperation will continue as we complete the process of planning what promises to be an unprecedented showcase of sports car endurance racing for the fans – and competitors in each championship.”

Sebring International Raceway General Manager Wayne Estes added: “From the beginning, we knew things would be adjusted to make this work for the teams, for the fans, and for the integrity of the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of work and cooperation among all parties to produce the best possible event for the world’s sports car racing enthusiasts.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. daedalus

    April 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    finally some common sense prevails

  2. TF110

    April 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Why Friday? I don’t feel like these changes are a good thing. At least the race is going ahead and it’s not just another 6 hour event.

    • amlv20

      April 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      if every one is too drunk to know what is happening and every one else leaves after the 12 hour, how will that look for the WEC?

    • Steven

      April 4, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Because Friday’s are normally the day that track activities end the earliest. I know Petit would have night practice on Thursday and all track activity was done by 4 or 5 pm on Friday. Nothing to do but drink, mingle, and party.

      its 20 hours of professional racing in 2 days. Not including the other support series racing that weekend possibly.

  3. AudiTT

    April 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    So, if there’s a new pit lane, I guess this means Sebring will become a permanent WEC fixture. Maybe the series could run together eventually if the LMP regs are aligned.

    • DEJ

      April 5, 2018 at 10:49 am

      They have to make room for the electric GT car next year

  4. Mr Wheat

    April 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Good move

  5. Change it up

    April 4, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Ugh, just move it to Sunday morning, I was kind of looking forward to the place having less people since every one was whining and threatening to leave after IMSA’s 12 hour. Either way, I’ll be there for Friday and Saturday’s main events!

    • Haskellb

      April 4, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Most of Europe is 6-8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard time. So, if the race starts at 10am over here, that is 4-6pm over there. On top of that it means the race ends between Midnight and 2am. That is not practical for the core WEC audience.

      • Marco

        April 4, 2018 at 2:14 pm

        Worse. The article states an afternoon start. So it’ll get pretty late here.

      • AudiTT

        April 5, 2018 at 8:04 am

        It would be s Friday prime time start in Europe if it started around 12pm-3pm local time.

  6. Max

    April 4, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Good move.

  7. sunset bend

    April 4, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Nicely done. The locals have been grumbling about the lack of action on Friday evening. I think track activities ended after the Conti race this year – 5pm. This will give everyone a reason to get pumped up on Friday, and not crap all over the 12 Hr. on Saturday. Yay!

  8. Tyler Sanders

    April 4, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    This is a really good move in my opinion

  9. FlyingLobster27

    April 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Just as moving Fuji back to clash with PLM was the right decision for the WEC’s relationship with Toyota, this is the right decision for the WEC’s relationship with IMSA. The ACO and the FIA need both for their next-gen prototype regs…

  10. Redcap

    April 4, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    This is good news! The Michelin Sports car Challenge can still fit in Friday morning. Friday will be a full day like it used to be. Lets hope the ticket prices don’t jump to much.

  11. Lanky Turtle

    April 4, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Great move on both sides part. They can push things back and have more support series action on Wednesday and run qualifying for the 12 Hour on Thursday like they used to.

  12. Dave Henrie

    April 4, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Logistacal bumps? How about the track surface bumps??? WEC teams that have never experienced Sebring are in for a rude awakening.

    • Sorc

      April 4, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      A lot of them have tested there already. Sebring is not THAT special.

      • Robert

        April 4, 2018 at 2:41 pm

        Ok, then by that logic, Le Mans is not THAT special because they decide to change the character and layout of the course every bloody year it seems these days, never mind the miles of paved runoff and gravel traps they have added since 2011. Oh, and Le Mans is as smooth as a baby’s tushie too.

        • Jenner

          April 5, 2018 at 3:26 am

          Paved runoffs and gravel traps were added to help save drivers lives. Race tracks around the world started paving their grass runoff areas after Greg Moore’s death at Fontana in a CART IndyCar Series race.

          I hope I NEVER see an accident like Greg’s ever again.

          BTW: LeMans is pretty smooth track considering it’s a public road 24/7, 365 days of the year.

    • Michael Waldron

      April 4, 2018 at 10:54 pm

      #respectthebumps

  13. Cosmo DeLuca

    April 4, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    The worst kept secret.

  14. jason

    April 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Amazing WEC has embraced going to an event where they are the 2nd most prestigious race of the weekend. I guess 12 noon to 8 pm could work? Allows just the last hour to be in dark. Night racing on TV is tough. Those lights are glaring into the camera constantly.

  15. Jenner

    April 4, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    WEC wants in at Sebring, IMSA wants in at Lemans.

    Let’s just call a truce and enjoy them both while we can, soon it will be nothing but E-Sportscars and Roboracing.

    • RobertB

      April 5, 2018 at 9:21 am

      LOL’d at Roboracing. Will BoP be driver specific?

  16. bjones

    April 4, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    As for Europe the midnight start is better as that is what WEC was looking at. Timing and the start was never the problem, but the change over during different sessions. Even with Sebring’s pit structure being somewhat friendly, things can and would get wild during session changes. If you have never been to Sebring then you would not understand the next problem which would be where are we going to put 30 extra teams? We’ll figure out I guess.
    I can promise you this, If any of you peeps on here on anywhere want to see a spectacle in not only racing, but logistics, then get your tickets. P.S. Sebring is adding one new Hotel So stop by Walmart and get a tent, If you have any questions watch the movie LeMans and you’ll get the picture. Even though I am one of those whom has to deal with headaches,It will be fun,for the fan that is, but that is Sebring, shit happens, shit is fixed, shit pops up and it is handled, like I said it will be one of those events that when it is all over, everyone will stop and say what just happened?

    • Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

      April 4, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      I camp at Le Mans every year and already got plans for my first trip to Sebring in 19

      • Jonathan

        April 4, 2018 at 11:50 pm

        You are in for a treat. Sebring is something you have to experience. It’s a crazy but amazing time, bring plenty of beer.

  17. Richard Reeves

    April 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    I would have preferred a Sunday WEC race with practice for both series on Thus and qualy on Fri. But some of you make a good point that the WEC didn’t want to race on Sunday in front of a fraction of the IMSA Saturday crowd. On the other hand the Fri crowd is never as large as on Saturday, so it may be six or a half-dozen of the other…
    I have a number of questions, however, that maybe John has answers to:
    1) Who’s paying for the new pitlane? Aside from the improvements Don Panoz made in the place Sebring has been notorious for its lack of facility upgrades. Does Sebring have a long term contract with the WEC?
    2) Will the new pitlane impact RV parking along the Ullmann Straight?
    3) The two series are going to share paddock space but…will the WEC paddock be shut off to the public the way it is elsewhere? The French have this fetish for secrecy which runs contrary to the spirit of Sebring. If their paddock is sealed off all attention will refocus on the IMSA cars. Does the WEC get this??
    Still and all this still has the feel of a stop-gap measure. I wouldn’t be surprised if the WEC switched the Sebring date to the fall in the near future, in which case they’d still attract a hundred thousand fans…

    • Sorc

      April 4, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      The WEC paddock is as open as it could be. No idea where you’re getting that nonsense from.

      • AudiTT

        April 5, 2018 at 8:10 am

        There’s many misconceptions about the WEC from US fans. It couldn’t be a more friendly, open series to compete in. It’s a joy for fans to visit a WEC event.

  18. Andy Flinn

    April 4, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    I love it!

    I hope this isn’t a belated April Fools joke.

    Celebrate the winner of the WEC race in Green Park on Friday night/early Saturday morning.

    Two concerns though:

    What will ticket prices look like?

    Will it cost more to keep my Turn One reserved RV spot?

  19. Degner

    April 4, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    I disagree that this is a good idea.

    Why have the WEC on the bill at all, let alone with an endurance race *ahead* of the 12 Hours?

    Let the 12 Hours of Sebring stand ALONE and be what it has been historically – a race for domestic and international competitors under IMSA’s sanction.

    At this point the WEC needs IMSA far more than the other way around. And save the malarkey about IMSA getting concessions regarding Le Mans. That’s BS and it will never happen to any significant degree.

    There’s no need for WEC at Sebring. We already have the 12 Hours.

    • Av

      April 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      What’s so bad about having the WEC as a support race on Friday? It will be wonderful racing. No one is touching the 12 hours. Who cares about concessions for Le Mans. It is going to be amazing to see the WEC running full blast at the Sebring field. Do you personally attend the race? You can stay home. We are going to need the extra space.

    • Michael Waldron

      April 4, 2018 at 11:00 pm

      Let it be….Ive attended 45 12 Hour races and this is great for my hometown.

    • FlyingLobster27

      April 5, 2018 at 1:45 am

      My view was there should clearly be one big race, and that it should be the classic 12 Hours. The WEC competitors should either join the 12 Hours, or hold a standard 6-hour support race. I couldn’t get behind the original plan, it felt too much like the WEC was trying to upstage the 12 Hours, like there was a lack of modesty. This solution works ok for me though.

    • Jenner

      April 5, 2018 at 3:54 am

      WOW!!! More racing, more cars and everybody is bitching about it.

      It seems to me Sebring race fans rather watch Spec Miata’s and old farts driving (not racing) their Ferrari Challenge cars on Friday than watch WEC P1, P2, GTE, and GT-AM racing REAL race cars on the limit.

      Just be happy they’re racing on Friday and not Sat night when you guys are getting your precious beauty sleep.

      • This is Big Time Racing, not your local side show

        April 5, 2018 at 5:45 am

        Well, there is a certain contingent here who believes that national championships like the IWSC should be restricted to certain geographical regions to save travel costs or coddle the small teams who can’t afford to replace their wrecked cars.

        Now, they’re applying the same nonsensical reasoning to an international championship like the WEC.

        Geez, why would IMSA want to have a presence in the second largest media market in the U.S., or why would the WEC want to return to the historic sports car circuit that launched it, in the second largest vehicle market in the world?

        It costs too much and is too hard ton the teams! Makes no sense at all!

        /s

  20. Marco

    April 5, 2018 at 4:19 am

    Imagine the merging towards/into the ‘easy’ final turn with cars coming out of the pits.

  21. bjones

    April 5, 2018 at 6:53 am

    OK, The last I heard on the new pit lane it will be a basic extension of the original pit lane towards turn one. I have read the article twice now and still not sure if it has changed but unless something changes ( it could) your pit straight parking should be good.
    I agree, more racing, why you bitchen? Just enjoy and leave the logistics and planning to those who make stuff happen.

    • Larry

      April 5, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      bjones, the WEC pit lane will be on the back straight, not the front straight.

      Having driven down that back straight many times, I think it’s gonna be a perfect place for the WEC pits and I love the time changes.

      This just makes it a thousand times better than it was gonna be.

      And to whoever said “Sebring is not that special”, you have no sense of history and no idea of what you speak.

  22. Av

    April 5, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Maybe Porsche feels like bringing the 919 for a one time shot at Sebring.

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