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GTE Qualifying Races Put on Hold

GTE Qualifying Races on hold as WEC transitions to winter schedule…

Photo:Drew Gibson/Ford

The FIA and ACO have put plans for GTE qualifying races on hold, amid the launch of a transitional “Super Season” schedule for the FIA World Endurance Championship next year.

WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said the concept, which is understood to have been agreed in principle by GTE manufacturers prior to this weekend, is no longer a priority for the series in the short-term, as it focuses on evolving into a winter calendar.

“I don’t think it’s very serious to try to introduce this new format now, especially with the Super Season,” Neveu said. “They have many other priorities and [the manufacturers] are fully convinced about that. We had a meeting about it [on Friday]. So that’s not a priority.

“When we discussed with the teams about that this year… some of them explained it was a very good idea on the marketing point and identity.

“But it will have a financial impact. Tires are very expensive and they’d have to use more tires. This would be a qualifying race, so it would be more expensive than just to do a few qualifying laps. It’s a race with a chance of damage.”

The qualifying race concept has been one of several ideas discussed between manufacturers to help give the GTE-Pro category additional exposure on race weekends.

A number of manufacturers, including Porsche, have been pushing for increased visibility for the production-based ranks.

“The question is for sure what will you [do] in GTE,” said Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser.” You can do more [with television coverage].

“It’s not easy, it’s a task. Qualifying races could be one idea.”

While no longer on the cards for next season, Neveu said he wouldn’t rule out the format being adopted in the future, potentially as early as the 2019-20 season, in what will be the first regular-length season, which will feature seven rounds.

“Nothing is definite for sure,” he said. “It’s the same for the calendar. Let’s see after the Super Season where we are and if it’s possible to do it, maybe it would be absolutely possible.”

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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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