The FIA World Endurance Championship plans to maintain an eight-round calendar for its 2019-20 season, which has been extended until November with the addition of a new season finale in Bahrain.
Additionally, it has been confirmed that Season 9, originally slated to kick off at Silverstone this September, will not start before March 2021.
The revised provisional schedule, released on Friday, has the postponed Total 6 Hours of Spa now scheduled for Aug. 15, followed by the previously confirmed new date for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the addition of a second 8 Hours of Bahrain, which will now close out the season on Nov. 21.
Bahrain effectively replaces the 1000 Miles of Sebring, which was canceled due to travel restrictions amid the global coronavirus pandemic last month.
It has resulted in the 2019-20 calendar being extended by five months from the originally scheduled Le Mans end date in June and has pushed two of the three 2020-21 races off the calendar for this year.
In addition to the Silverstone season opener, originally scheduled for Sept. 5, WEC’s planned race debut at Monza and its annual trip to Fuji Speedway have been put off as a result of a “completely reworked” Season 9 calendar that will not start before March 21.
According to WEC CEO Gerard Neveu, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left the championship with “little choice” but to make revisions to the 2019-20 calendar.
“It is today impossible to consider organizing an international motorsport event before the summer, so we have rearranged the calendar accordingly while keeping the same number of events on the schedule,” he said.
“However, we must be prepared for some big changes for next season because we will have to incorporate many parameters, starting with the inevitable economic difficulties that are to come.
“For the time being our overriding concern is for everyone’s good health, and we hope that everyone will take good care of themselves and their loved ones in the weeks to come.”
Neveu explained that Bahrain was chosen as this season’s finale as there were “no other” options available in Europe that provided the guarantee of good weather at that time of the year, while also delivering the same race length, and points, as the canceled Sebring race.
While having been in dialogue with Silverstone, Neveu confirmed there was no available date to organize a race this year, nor being able to come to a commercial agreement.
Silverstone is also off the revised 2020 European Le Mans Series schedule, which was also released on Friday.
Also confirmed today, the start time for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans has been moved to 2:30 p.m
ACO President Pierre Fillon said it was was decided upon with its partners, “notably TV” and competitors.
2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship Schedule:
Sept. 1 – 4H Silverstone
Oct. 6 – 6H Fuji
Nov. 10 – 4H Shanghai
Dec. 14 – 8H Bahrain
Feb. 23 – Lone Star Le Mans
Aug. 15 – Total 6H Spa
Sept. 19-20 – 24 Hours of Le Mans
Nov. 21 – 8H Bahrain