The FIA World Endurance Championship is poised to feature a capacity grid in 2015, with the globe-trotting sports car championship accepting a maximum of 32 full-season entries next year, according to series boss Gerard Neveu.
“The fact is when we say 32 cars, it’s not because we want to limit it, but but it’s the [best] condition to welcome the grid correctly and to guarantee a good sporting organization,” Neveu told Sportscar365.
“When you’re visiting all the different tracks, you have to make sure you have a good pit lane organization and enough space in the garages. You can see how much space the LMP1 programs take up, for example.”
This year’s championship initially saw 31 full-season cars, prior to the withdrawals of Millennium Racing and Ram Racing, which has impacted the grid for some of the overseas races.
However, with Nissan already confirming a two-car factory LMP1 program, a soon-to-be-announced new full-season American GTE class effort, as well as the possibility of additional entries from new and existing teams, the series could be faced with as many as 40 entry requests.
“We have to stay very humble,” Neveu said. “It looks like there’s a big interest, but between the interest and the final [entry requests], there’s still a long way.
“It looks like, not only American teams, but teams in general are interested. Some Americans have already made announcements, which is good for us.”
Neveu said they have always used a selection committee to determine full-season entries, with 2015 to be no different, but with an increased demand.
“We have to be careful as we have LMP1, LMP2 and GTE-Pro and GTE-Am. We have to find a good balance,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s impossible to say what the clear situation is. I have an idea. We’ve had many discussions. But between the intention and the final entries, there is a long, long winter.”
Much of the recent interest has come from America, with Extreme Speed Motorsports likely to enter its new HPD ARX-04b cars, while Dempsey Racing, AIM Autosport, GB Autosport, Magnus Racing and RSR Racing are also evaluating programs.
Some of the teams, including ESM, may opt for partial-season entries, with Neveu confirming additional available space for the European rounds.
The series will also continue to accept local teams for each event, as recently seen last month at Circuit of The Americas, which saw entries from ESM, Corvette Racing and Krohn Racing.
“There will be no more than 32 full-season entries but it could mean 32, 33, 34 cars in place as we have to keep one or two entries open per race for local teams,” he said.
“It doesn’t bring anything in terms of logistics; they’re on-site. The idea to have a local team or local driver, depending on the countries, is a good idea because it helps a lot for the promotion. It makes sense.
“A good example in the USA. Apparently the team who raced with us this year as a Wild Card entry should be on the grid next year. It means for that reason, it’s a good idea.”
With the FIA WEC already utilizing four Boeing 747s for air-freight, Neveu doesn’t just want to accept quantity instead of ensuring a quality product for teams, series partners and fans.
“We have to take into consideration to guarantee a good organization,” he said. “We’re not looking to have the maximum number of cars to make the maximum money. That would provide a big mess to the teams.
“Instead, we have to make sure that we can organize everything very well.”