WEC Planning Format Changes to GTE in 2018

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

The FIA World Endurance Championship is set to undergo a format change to the GTE class next year, aimed to increase the category’s visibility, championship organizers have revealed.

FIA Endurance Commission President Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones said that “creative ideas” are are in the works that would give the factory-backed production-based class, which has received World Championship status this year, more exposure on existing weekends.

“We would expect to see some evolution of the format itself by the beginning of next year,” Owen-Jones said.

“We’re working on the format with some creative ideas to give the GT cars more visibility within the weekends racing to make that very attractive for the fans.”

While Owen-Jones was not drawn on specifics, it’s understood at least one proposal involves a seperate qualifying race for GTE-Pro and potentially GTE-Am cars on Saturday, to set the grid for the six-hour races on Sunday.

“It’s just a little bit too early to say what that exactly will be but we should be able to come back with news on that fairly soon,” he said.

The development came Sunday morning at Silverstone, during a pre-race press conference featuring FIA President Jean Todt and ACO President Pierre Fillon, who signed a contract extension for the WEC through the end of the 2020 season.

At least five manufacturers are set to compete in the GTE-Pro class in 2018, with BMW joining Ford, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche, which has returned to full-factory competition this year with its mid-engined 911 RSR.

It’s understood both Lamborghini and McLaren are actively evaluating GTE programs, for as early as 2019.

“The GT category could have more visibility than it has now,” Todt said. “The first step in the evolution, together with Pierre, Lindsay and their teams, we will see what could be the next step to highlight the main category [in GTE-Pro].”

Owen-Jones ruled out any format change debuting this year, and would have to go to the World Motor Sport Council for approval.

13 Comments

  1. jason

    April 16, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Better idea: A GT stand alone race weekend (or 2 of them during the year). Have a field consist of GTE Pro, GTE AM (WEC, ELMS), and maybe GT Le Mans Cup. The race can range from 3 to 6 hours.

    • gtgianlu

      April 16, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      See at Blancpain Endurance Series

      • NaBUru38

        April 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

        Blancpain doesn’t race in North America or Asia.

        • ryogen

          April 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

          Blancpain has Asia series now. They also do partnership with PWC so effectively they do both Asian and North American series.

  2. juneracer

    April 16, 2017 at 8:15 am

    the best races IMSA’s ever had were GT alone races. the same could be in WEC but it defeats the main purpose for them. for me they could have two races in the ‘short’ events, one being GT only. Porsche or Toyota and LMP2s….technology is nice but otherwise a bit boring.

  3. thomas

    April 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

    WEC fields (even with BMW) are not strong enough to justify this. It’s just going to look bad on TV unless they opt to race them at Martinsville Speedway or something

    • GR88

      April 17, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      You’d have a grid of approximately 15 cars Pro & Am, in a short sprint race. You won’t see ’em running for an hour or two. 30m-45m tops.

  4. P

    April 16, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Separated qualifying races are a good idea.

    Maybe for Silverstone, the WEC and the ELMS can merge. With LMP1 and LMP2 in the 1st qualifying race and the GTE Pro and Am in the 2nd on Saturday, with all cars racing “Le Mans style” for the 6 Hours on Sunday.

  5. el_gordo

    April 16, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Just attach a dancing monkey to the roof of each GTE car.

  6. JamieR

    April 16, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Anything to attract more cars. Also having a GT inly event would encourage Corvette Racing over more often and get more AM teams interested in the WEC.

    • Daft

      April 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

      How does this increase the interest of anyone?

      • GR88

        April 17, 2017 at 10:34 pm

        They could have a made for TV 30 minute sprint for Saturday viewer……or Friday evening.

  7. Hindy

    April 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    As we reported on Midweek Motorsport on http://www.radiolemans.com a few weeks ago, and as I told John the week of Imsa Long Beach, the proposal was for a televised 1 hour GT Sprint race the day before the main race. The GT manufactures agreed this ( and have been sworn to secrecy) but the FiA World Motorsport Council refused permission to change at such short notice.

    There was also a proposal for the main race to be 4 hours 30 on one day, with a 90 minute “main” race for TV the next. The idea being to package highlights of race one + live coverage of the “main” fit into a 2 hour TV slot.

    Unsurprisingly that was not approved.

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