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COTA Replaces Canceled 6H Sao Paulo Round

COTA to return to WEC schedule in February following cancellation of 6H Sao Paulo…

Photo: MPS Agency

The FIA World Endurance Championship has removed the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo from this season’s calendar and replaced it with a round at Circuit of The Americas.

The series confirmed on Monday that a “major issue with the local promoter” led to the decision to abandon the return of world championship endurance racing to Interlagos after six years away.

The Brazil round’s slot on the 2019-20 schedule will now be taken up by COTA, which last hosted the WEC in 2017.

Subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council approval, the United States GP venue will hold a six-hour race on Feb. 22-23, three weeks after the original date of the Sao Paulo event.

This later date was enforced to avoid clashes with the NFL Super Bowl on the first weekend of February, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship round in Mexico City on the third weekend of the month.

It also means the WEC no longer faces a scheduling conflict with the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on Feb. 2.

However, there is a new clash with the Asian Le Mans Series season finale at Buriram, which is set to implicate several drivers who compete in both championships including Ferrari’s Alessandro Pier Guidi and Davide Rigon as well as Aston Martin Racing’s Ross Gunn.

Last month, WEC CEO Gerard Neveu described “serious doubts and concerns” over the WEC’s return to Brazil because of financial issues and delays.

He told Sportscar365 that the championship would not hesitate to replace the round with another event to fill the gap between this month’s 8 Hours of Bahrain and the 1000 Miles of Sebring in March.

Following the announcement of the switch, Neveu said: “Firstly we must thank Bobby Epstein and the Circuit of The Americas for accommodating us at relatively short notice.

“It is an excellent venue, and our fans, competitors and media are now assured of excellent racing in North America not once, but twice in two months.

“Of course, it is very unfortunate to find ourselves in this position.  The WEC very much regrets this situation and feels very sad for the City of São Paulo and the many thousands of Brazilian motorsport fans.

“Our main concern was our competitors and partners, and we have worked very hard to find a solution which offered the least disruption possible.”

COTA’s addition to the 2019-20 schedule means there will be two races in the United States this season.

The championship’s visit to Texas will take place exactly a month prior to the sixth round of the campaign at Sebring International Raceway.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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