The ACO has released a statement regarding Porsche’s “precipitous departure” from LMP1, stressing the world championship status in the FIA World Endurance Championship remains intact, despite there set to be only a single manufacturer in the LMP1 class next year.
The German manufacturer confirmed Friday morning that it would pull the plug on its LMP1 Hybrid program, one year early from its initial commitment through the end of the 2018 season, and instead shifting its focus to Formula E.
According to the ACO, the “abruptness of the decision” from Porsche, which is understood to have been in the works prior to last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, has sent series bosses immediately to work to provide an “outline” for next year.
“The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, promoter of the WEC and organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, regrets this precipitous departure, as it does the abruptness of the decision from one of endurance racing’s most successful and lauded manufacturers,” the statement reads.
“However, the ACO and the FIA, guardians of the existence and quality of the FIA World Endurance championship, have immediately set to work to put forward to everyone involved in endurance racing the outline of the 2018 season – a season which promises to be quite exceptional thanks to the introduction of new innovations.
“Clearly, the reduction of costs and stability, but also inventiveness and audacity, will be vital in making it possible to stage an increasingly spectacular and attractive championship with the sport of endurance racing at the forefront.
“This unprecedented 2018 World Championship will, without doubt, excite and enthuse competitors, partners and fans of endurance racing alike.”
Porsche’s withdrawal, coming less than one year after sister brand Audi ended its LMP1 program, leaves only Toyota as a registered LMP1 manufacturer for 2018, should the Japanese automaker elect not to continue as well.
It’s understood an emergency meeting is being held at TMG today to determine Toyota Gazoo Racing’s future.
Despite the loss of the Manufacturer’s World Championship, a WEC spokesperson confirmed there will still be three world championship titles at play for 2018, and therefore retaining its status.
According to the spokesperson, the World Drivers’ title, for LMP1 and LMP2 drivers, as well as the new-for-2017 GT Manufacturers and GT Drivers World Championships, will all continue.
WEC CEO Gerard Neveu previously told Sportscar365 that a minimum of two LMP1 manufacturers are required for World Championship status.
It’s understood both Neveu and ACO President Pierre Fillon are unavailable for comment until a planned press conference at the next round in Mexico City in September, where further details on 2018 is expected to be announced.