IMSA’s shift of its Circuit of The Americas round to a standalone, headline race next May will solve the “compromise” with its current combined event with the FIA World Endurance Championship, according to series President Scott Atherton.
The dual IMSA/WEC round, which has been run since 2013 when initially under the American Le Mans Series, will be split up next year, with the WeatherTech Championship confirming a May 5-7 date.
“It’s been a spectacular weekend, but it’s come with a lot of compromise by all involved,” Atherton told NBCSports.com.
“It also has had issues with its proximity on the calendar to college football which is enormous in that part of the world and also in proximity to the Formula 1 race that takes place.
“So it definitely has a distraction from their staff, their marketing efforts. Let’s be honest: a Formula 1 weekend is their biggest so that’s where their focus is.”
Atherton said details on the event have yet to be finalized but the idea would be to have the two-hour and 40-minute WeatherTech Championship race on late Saturday afternoon, potentially run into the darkness.
The event would also include a high-profile musical event to follow after the race, with the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge also scheduled to be in action during the weekend.
“We had a desire to go to a springtime date,” Atherton said. “GRAND-AM raced there in the spring, had a very successful weekend and that’s been our desire.
“We made that known to COTA as well as to our partners at WEC. We were able to confirm a date.”
The WEC has yet to confirm its 2017 schedule, and when reached by Sportscar365, the a series spokesperson declined comment at this time.
All that is known is that the globe-trotting championship will not be part of the May event, particularly as the Six Hours of Spa is provisionally scheduled for the same weekend.
A return to COTA for the WEC, however, appears to be likely, potentially with Pirelli World Challenge, which moved its event to Sept. 1-3. from its traditional season-opener in March.
“I don’t have knowledge of what the WEC plans are and candidly it’s not for us to speculate,” Atherton said.
“Right now, we’re pleased with that decision, looking forward to an IMSA weekend at COTA in the spring.”