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Fuji Date Change Confirmed; Set for Petit Le Mans Clash

WEC confirms 6H Fuji date change to Oct. 12-14; set for clash with Motul Petit Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

The Six Hours of Fuji has been moved up by one week, FIA World Endurance Championship officials confirmed Friday, allowing Fernando Alonso to contest the entire 2018 calendar season although now clashing with the Motul Petit Le Mans.

As revealed by Sportscar365 last week, WEC officials had been considering a change to the Oct. 19-21 date, understood to be influenced by the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, in order to have its new star driver take part in the Japanese manufacturer’s home race.

Originally scheduled for Oct. 12-14, the Fuji event was pushed back by one week in the first revision of the 2018/19 schedule, to avoid a clash with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ender.

The move places the race back into the original date, thus causing issues for a number of drivers who are scheduled to contest both the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races and WEC, including Harry Tincknell, Renger van der Zande, Olivier Pla and Nico Lapierre.

2018/19 WEC Schedule (Revised):
May 4-5 — Spa-Francorchamps
June 16-17 — 24 Hours of Le Mans
Aug. 18-19 — Silverstone
Oct. 12-14 — Fuji Speedway
Nov. 17-18 — Shanghai
March 15-16 – 1500 Miles of Sebring
May 3-4 – Spa-Francorchamps
June 15-16 – 24 Hours of Le Mans

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Tyler Sanders

    February 9, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Wow this sucks especially for people that wanted to run at Petit Lemans and Fuji

  2. Johannes275

    February 9, 2018 at 9:26 am

    ………what an idiotic decision. Utterly UTTERLY idiotic.

    • AudiTT

      February 9, 2018 at 10:39 am

      The WEC are absolutely correct to move the race.

      Alonso racing at Fuji has far reaching consequences not only for the driver and Toyota, but the future well being octave Fuji race and WEC as a whole. Only a few months back many where questioning whether we’d even have a WEC, but here we are with a 36 car grid and 10 LMP1’s. After flirting with a crises that could have ended the series it is imperative all commercial opportunities and future sustainability is maximised.

      That’s to the benefit of all parties. A small WEC, or no WEC at all, would put dozens of professional drivers on the market, reducing paid driver opportunities for all. This is an exceptional year where both Fuji and PLM where penned in by other series’ dates. It’s something that can be avoided in future seasons. As for the seasons clash, paying fans, TV viewers, radio listener’s and (99.9%) of teams won’t be affected as the races are on different time zones, on different days. It’s unfortunate for a handful of drivers, just as last seasons FE clash was.

      • WesGTR

        February 9, 2018 at 10:46 am

        Thanks for putting into words what I was thinking but couldn’t express.

      • Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

        February 9, 2018 at 11:28 am

        Yep…agree 100%

      • JaymondoGB

        February 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm

        Couldnt agree more, well said.

      • Nick1

        February 9, 2018 at 12:42 pm

        Completely understand, but I think people are still skeptical about how much of a impact Alonso will actually have on the WEC

      • NaBUru38

        February 9, 2018 at 1:32 pm

        If the ACO keeps playing these tricks, teams will lost trust pretty quickly.

      • Matt

        February 9, 2018 at 10:23 pm

        I really don’t think that many more fans are going to show up to see Alonso. He drives the car for 1/3 of the race and it’s the WEC at Fuji. Crappy track in a series that’s extremely boring to begin with. It’s more important to have a good relationship with IMSA and the rest of the drivers/teams and not screw them over just for one driver who might attract 1,000 extra fans

  3. Tim

    February 9, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Change the date for 1 person haha.

  4. Old Trombone

    February 9, 2018 at 10:07 am

    So we have moved from moving races to stuff Hulkenberg to moving races to chuff Alonso. Does the Hulk get an apology here? Alonso should make sure Hulk gets one. Also, is Alonso going to pay the compensation for all the drivers who now can’t get paid for both races?

    • WesGTR

      February 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

      There are so many points on which you are mistaken/not looking at the whole picture that I don’t know where to begin. So I won’t.

      • Old Trombone

        February 9, 2018 at 12:13 pm

        So let me begin for you:

        WesGTR: “Toyota’s money to WEC in France is more important than American and other nationality drivers who also have families to feed and could earn more if these two races were on different weekends, which they were already until one single dude needed a different clash unclashed. Now, if these drivers think that their money for their families is somehow more important than the WEC’s money, then they’re snowflakes and they better get over it. WEC and Alonso freakn WON that back room deal, get over it driver!”

        • AudiTT

          February 9, 2018 at 12:43 pm

          Alonso able to compete for the WEC title will be at the bottom of the series’ list of priorities. Change was made to ensure the Fuji WEC round will have an unprecedented amount of media and fan interest. Which in turn could ensure Toyota are committed long-term to the WEC, which could attract other manufacturers like McLaren and Ford into LMP1. If we have joint LMP1/DPI regs, that benefits both series.

          The date change will ultimately strengthen the series at the pinnacle of our sport, which in turn will have a beneficial effect on the rest of sports car racing. Eyes on the sport, factory and commercial interest. Sportcar racing has to break out of it’s niche to grow. As great as a guy as Harry Tincknell is, in the grand scheme of things, him missing a race won’t register on the mainstream radar. But longer-term, he could be the kind of driver benefiting from increased LMP1 support and exposure.

          IMSA could move PLM to the following weekend. They won’t of course because it would clash with the US GP. There are no driver/team clashes, they won’t do it for commercial reasons. Just as WEC can’t pass up Alonso at Fuji for both short-term, and long-term, commercial reasons.

          • Old Trombone

            February 9, 2018 at 1:35 pm

            Trickle down economics. Reagan and Thatcher tried that…

            This is a power play to get what’s wanted by those with power. Those drivers that had a gig but now don’t have a gig have no power to change that. Some moralistic team owners might pay a contract annulment fee, but that’s about all these drivers are gonna get. By the way folks, the “new gig economy” is actually the “old oligarchy takes your work and pays maybe what it feels like economy”.

            Your idea that IMSA might change their date sounds like a real possibility. Could 2 weeks or more later.

          • Matt

            February 9, 2018 at 10:29 pm

            The WEC is a team series. Changing the date to accomdate Alonso is barely going to attract more interest. Most Japanese fans can already just as easily see Alonso at the Japanese GP. It’s a really stupid move that screws teams/drivers that wanted to do both races.

  5. SportscarFan

    February 9, 2018 at 10:16 am

    It just wouldn’t be the ACO if they didn’t make at least one stupid decision per season!

    • Frank

      February 9, 2018 at 10:38 am

      To call this stupid is to compliment it. Negatively affecting so many to benefit one is a lot worse than stupid.

    • WesGTR

      February 9, 2018 at 10:50 am

      I’ll spare you the long read by saying just: Money talks.

      If you’re in for a longer read, check out AudiTT’s comment further up from here explaining why this was done. I’m not saying it sucks for all the drivers who can’t participate on both races, I’m saying WEC’s duty first and foremost is to look after what’s theirs, in this case is Toyota’s entry fee and money from Fuji which is also Toyota’s. It’s their only manufacturer in the top class, they better look after it.

  6. FlyingLobster27

    February 9, 2018 at 10:29 am

    I thought that crashing on purpose was the ludicrous thing anyone has done for Alonso. It was a high bar, I don’t think it’s been passed, but this is really, really close.

    • FlyingLobster27

      February 9, 2018 at 10:43 am

      *most ludicrous

  7. jason

    February 9, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Is Fernando Alonso bigger than sportscar racing. The WEC seems to think so. They are busch league. IMSA is the best series on the planet. It was cool that Fernando was at Daytona but the race clearly did not revolve around him though.

  8. TF110

    February 9, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Why can’t imsa move their date? It’s only bad because the wec does it. What would the plm round conflict with if it was moved forward a week or two? The wec serves itself first, not imsa. That’s how it has to be.

    • Andy Flinn

      February 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      TF110, IMSA’s 2018 schedule has been announced for how long now? The Petit Le Mans has been run in early October for 20 years now.

      The WEC has existed for only SIX.

      The WEC created the problem – the WEC can fix it. Well, maybe they can fix it.

      We’ll see.

      • jason

        February 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

        With the ACO’s blessing too. The Petit Le Mans was a deal that Panoz made with them! Granted the FIA is a separate group officially. They are still joined at the hip with the ACO.

        No you are wrong TF110, this is on the WEC and them bending over to their ‘god’ Fernando.

    • TF110

      February 9, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      All I see is WEC hate because some drivers might not be able to do it and Fuji. But if PLM were moved forward a week it would conflict with the f1 race. But no drivers partake in both of those series. That’s what the big deal is right? So what if it is a traditional date, things like that can change for accommodation. If the two series are supposed to be in some kind of partnership… The WEC needs to worry about it’s future before that of another series. IMSA would do the same thing, any of these series would. Can’t be upset about it when you think about the time left to solve the problem and the reasons for the conflict in the first place. Sometimes you need to be a little selfish.

    • Matt

      February 9, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Because IMSA is a more popular series than the WEC. Why would they change their date to accodate the WEC’s stupid decision?

  9. Andy Flinn

    February 9, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    TF110, we all know the WEC serves itself first.

    Being self-serving is not a compliment or a positive personality trait.

    • GridS2Plaza

      February 9, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Particularly considering you take Lemans out of the WEC season and it falls to 3rd behind IMSA and ELMS in terms of racing entertainment. Just because one series declares itself the “world championship” doesn’t make it the best show.

      WEC is and will continue to struggle until more alignment is reached in regulations.

      WEC only exists on the back of what was supported and developed in US sports car racing.

  10. Scott

    February 9, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Anyone who is bashing on the WEC or FIA for this decision is just so naive. I really feel pity for you.

    • jason

      February 9, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      And?…..back up your comment sir.

    • Matt

      February 9, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Yeah it really makes sense to screw over all your regular drivers and teams just to accomdate one person. Lol give me a break dude Alonso will attract like 1000 extra people.

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