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First Two Rounds to Take Place Behind Closed Doors

No fans permitted to attend WEC races at Portimao in April and Spa in early May…

Photo: Porsche

The first two rounds of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship at Portimao and Spa-Francorchamps will be held behind closed doors, the series has confirmed.

In a statement issued on Friday, the WEC announced that the 8 Hours of Portimao will go ahead on Apr. 2-4 followed by the 6 Hours of Spa on Apr. 29-May 1, but neither event will permit spectators to attend.

The Portimao season-opener will be preceded by an official ‘Prologue’ test at the Portuguese Grand Prix venue on Mar. 30-31. This will also run without public access.

According to the series, the decisions to put the races behind closed doors were made due to “uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”.

The calls came following consultation between series organizers the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA, which collectively took the “guidance from the public health and safety authorities” of Portugal and Belgium.

The final three rounds of the 2019-20 season at Spa, Le Mans and Bahrain International Circuit were also held behind closed doors.

The last round to permit spectator access was the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas held one year and three days ago.

“Given the ongoing constraints of COVID-19 and following local advice in both Portugal and in Belgium, we have decided to hold our first two races of the season behind closed doors,” said WEC CEO Frederic Lequien.

“Unfortunately, there are too many concerns that remain over public health and safety.

“We would like to thank everyone for their unwavering support and we will endeavor to deliver sportscar action to the homes of our fans by our various broadcast deals, the official FIA WEC app and via our social media channels.”

No word has been said on whether fans will be allowed to attend the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is set to stage round three of the world championship on Jun. 12-13.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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