Paul Dalla Lana says the coronavirus pandemic is making it “hard to predict” how his and other amateur FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ programs will look next year.
The Bronze-rated driver and owner of the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE has explained that the rapidly changing global picture is providing a challenge for paying drivers with other business interests to plan out their motorsport involvement in 2021.
Dalla Lana, who won the GTE-Am class title in 2017, said that there is currently a mix of concern and cautious optimism about the evolving situation.
“My worry would be that it could be quite impactful,” he told Sportscar365.
“It’s a luxury for any of us to do and it follows behind family safety and, in a lot of cases, business. Those are areas that are being challenged right now.
“That said, the discussions I’ve had with those in our paddock, people are a little concerned but cautiously optimistic. I think the challenge is the on and off again moments that we’re going to be in until we get a vaccine, ultimately.
“That inability to plan maybe impacts a gentleman driver a bit more, since we’re already juggling schedules. Turning things on and off again and moving things around is tricky.
“But in some ways, I think people are optimistic that we’re going to get through this and there will be some return to normalcy, and that would include racing. It’s hard to predict beyond that.
“I think I’ve got the added issue of getting to the twilight of my career, so managing the timing of that makes it even more complicated.”
Dalla Lana said that has not yet made a commitment to a 2021 racing program, explaining that he needs “time and perspective” before making a decision.
The Canadian has been a regular in the WEC since 2013 and has is currently contesting his sixth consecutive full-season program with Aston Martin Racing in GTE-Am.
“I’ve been taking racing year to year for a little bit,” he said. “I’ll use the off-season to think about where we are. I’ve constantly rallied to the challenge, but I am taking it year by year these days.
“Of course, I’d love to come back, and the partnership with Aston Martin has been great. The new car is fantastic and we’re in a great place, given all things, so it’s a privilege to be able to do it.
“But I’m in that moment of my career and life that I’ve got a few other approvals that I need to get every year and it just needs to fit in with some other things that are going on.
“Every year of the last few years I’ve been saying that and I’ve been back, so if past history is any example then I have a good chance. But we’re effectively coming off two super seasons in a row. We just need a little time and perspective to think down the line.”
Tweaks Required to Make 2021 Season Workable
Dalla Lana is keen for the WEC to become a “tighter, shorter series” to make it easier for amateur drivers in the GTE-Am and LMP2 classes to attend race weekends.
The WEC recently confirmed plans to reduce its 2021 season calendar from eight rounds to six, in a bid to address the financial strain put on teams during the pandemic.
“I would say more around certainty and landing on things that have a high possibility of happening,” said Dalla Lana, when asked about any changes he would like to see for 2021.
“It’s going to be a tricky year to get people signed up. Here we are in August, and we’ve got a 15-month season and those timeframes that are hard to plan for.
“I had a feeling with the ELMS, in my recent experience there, that should be a two-day event. It’s just not enough track time to warrant a three or four-day event.
“They [WEC] probably could throw in one or two weekends that have two days to them, just to tighten it down a little bit. That would be do-able.
“I don’t really have a lot of visibility on thinking for 2021 in terms of what it might be like, and all the changes we’ve had. Getting that out and getting it right will be an important part of my decision.”