The FIA World Endurance Championship has canceled the 6 Hours of Fuji and replaced it with a second event at Bahrain International Circuit to create back-to-back Gulf region races at the end of the season.
A statement from the WEC declared that ongoing difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic, including travel restrictions for arrivals into Japan, prompted the Fuji race at the end of September to be called off.
A replacement six-hour race will be held in Bahrain on Oct. 30, one week before the WEC’s eight-hour race in the same location which has been brought forward to Nov. 6.
The adjustment creates the first ‘double-header’ event in the championship’s history.
The season-ending 8 Hours of Bahrain was initially due to take place on Nov. 20.
“Regrettably we have been left with no choice but to cancel our Japanese leg of the World Championship due to continuing difficulties with the pandemic including travel restrictions and logistical issues,” said WEC CEO Frederic Lequien.
“We have instead decided to replace Fuji with another race in Bahrain, which we firmly believe is the safest option for everyone.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Fuji International Speedway’s President, Mr. Eijiro Haraguchi, and his entire team for their excellent cooperation and we look forward to returning in the future.
“At the same time, I’d like to express our gratitude to Sheikh Salman and his team for hosting us twice this season – they always provide such a warm welcome, and I’m confident that a double-header in Bahrain is an ideal solution in the current climate.”
Fuji’s cancelation removes a date clash with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Long Beach.
A handful of high-profile drivers including Renger van der Zande, Filipe Albuquerque and Loic Duval were due to be affected by the Long Beach scheduling conflict.
The current WEC season will mark the first without a visit to Fuji, which had been an ever-present venue since the inaugural 2012 campaign.
While Fuji did not host a round in the coronavirus-affected 2020 calendar year, it did feature in the 2019-20 WEC season.
“The current instability calls for adaptability,” commented ACO President Pierre Fillon.
“Having consulted widely, given the health situation, we will not be going to Fuji. A replacement round will be held in Bahrain.
“My heartfelt thanks to the Japanese organization team who did all they could to host the event. We are already looking forward to next year’s fixture.”
Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain International Circuit chief executive, added: “It is a great pleasure for us to be able to host two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“Over the last few months, we have demonstrated our ability to host several major international events in a safe manner and we thank WEC for showing their faith in us yet again.”