The FIA World Endurance Championship will feature an expansion to nine rounds in 2016, with the addition of a new event in Mexico City to the schedule, which was released Saturday afternoon.
A six-hour race at the newly renovated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez will take place on Sept. 2-4, two weeks prior to the championship’s return to Circuit of The Americas.
“The opportunity offered by Mexico City to take endurance racing back to Latin America was the right one at the right time” said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.
“In consultation with our partners and competitors, we believe that the countries in which we race have all fully embraced endurance racing and that was one of the considerations for any further rounds.”
Neveu said the WEC promoter of the race will be responsible for the full freight costs for competitors from Europe to Mexico, to avoid any significant rise in logistic budgets.
Among the other changes to next year’s schedule is a significant shortening of the gap between the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Nürburgring, which has been moved to July 22-24 from this year’s late August date.
“We have worked with the teams and circuits to reduce the long summer gap following Le Mans, and this new calendar will keep the action going through the summer,” Neveu added.
The season will again start at Silverstone in mid-April, followed by a stop at Spa-Francorchamps in early May before the double-points paying Le Mans round on June 18-19.
Post-COTA, the remainder of the schedule is identical to this year’s, with events at Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain, which closes out the season on Nov. 17-19.
Despite a possible move to Monza, the Prologue will remain at Paul Ricard, scheduled for March 25-26.
“We believe that the time is right to expand the WEC,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon.
“The nine-race calendar for 2016 allows us to continue to build the tradition of 6-hour events in the countries we visit – some of which were not so familiar with endurance racing when we began in 2012.
“We are very proud to have maintained the level of stability in the four years of the WEC, and we look forward to seeing you all in 2016.”
2016 FIA World Endurance Championship Schedule
March 25-26 — Prologue (Paul Ricard)
April 15-17 — Silverstone
May 5-7 — Spa-Francorchamps
June 5 — Le Mans Test Day
June 18-19 — 24 Hours of Le Mans
July 22-24 — Nürburgring
Sept. 2-4 — Mexico City (TBC)
September 15-17 — Circuit of The Americas
October 14-16 — Fuji Speedway
November 4-6 — Shanghai
November 17-19 — Bahrain
*Schedule subject to approval by FIA World Council