While the third season of the FIA World Endurance Championship kicks off in less than one month, series boss Gerard Neveu is already working on the potential growth of the globe-trotting sports car series for 2015 and beyond, including gaining a bigger footprint in North America.
Neveu revealed during this weekend’s pre-season test at Paul Ricard that they are already in discussions with some existing track promoters to finalize an extension of the original three-year contracts, while also not ruling out additions to the schedule.
“It’s a question of opportunity,” Neveu said. “We don’t want to make one more date just to do one more date. We have to do one more date if there is a very good opportunity.
“It means good race track, good market, good fan base, good financial interest, good media interest and good interest for the manufacturers.
“I will not add a date on a very small island in the middle of the Pacific because they pay a lot. It doesn’t make sense. The idea is to find a fair destination for everybody.”
Neveu and ACO President Pierre Fillon admitted that one of the options could be to have a second round in North America, although the top priority will be to first turn its existing event at Circuit of The Americas into a success.
Last year’s inaugural round reportedly drew a series-low 8,000 spectators on race day, with a significant effort having been made with the FIA WEC, IMSA and COTA to improve the promotion of the race for 2014.
All three organizations met last week to finalize the event schedule, which will see Saturday double-header with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“We’re working really hard together because we all agreed that it wasn’t the best scenario last year,” Neveu said. “What we did was try to put all of the effort together in the same direction this year to provide a good event.”
The series recently appointed former CART CEO Andrew Craig as its new North American representative, which Neveu feels will help the FIA WEC establish itself in a market that has typically been tough to penetrate.
“The U.S. market is a huge market so you have to dedicate one person full-time there,” he said. “We’re trying to bring more exposure for WEC to the U.S. because it’s probably more difficult in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world to have a space [in the market].
“We have considered that it’s a value to have someone like Andrew Craig, who has very good knowledge in marketing and media in the U.S. market. He’s living there and is working for us during the whole season. I’m in touch with him every week.
“We’re trying to build a long-term strategy in the U.S. with these partners and with this space. But we have to be humble about it and see how it works.”
As for a potential additional round in North America, Neveu stressed they will have to take things one step at a time, just has he’s taken with the steady growth of the entire championship.
“We have to be realistic,” he said. “To do that we have to find a good place and good opportunity.
“At this moment, before we imagine to do a second one, we have to do the first one correctly. That’s the first challenge and what we will try to do this year.”