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Hyperpole Set to Inspire New Qualifying Format for 2021

WEC set to alter qualifying format next year off the back of successful Le Mans Hyperpole debut…

Photo: MPS Agency

The Hyperpole qualifying format that recently debuted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans could inspire an “evolution” in the FIA World Endurance Championship system for 2021.

WEC CEO Gerard Neveu has suggested that the series is looking to implement a more fan-friendly qualifying system to replace the current two-driver average format that is now in its seventh season of use.

Le Mans qualifying consisted of a 45-minute group session, from which the six fastest individual drivers in each class progressed to a shorter half-hour final round to determine the top three grid rows.

The system garnered positive reactions within the paddock for its exciting two-stage structure and easy-to-read nature.

While Neveu suggested that the exact same format would be difficult to replicate on WEC weekends, which have different timetable structures to Le Mans, he noted that the series is looking to establish a “more spectacular” qualifying process.

“Le Mans was the perfect stage to try to launch this new process,” Neveu told Sportscar365.

“The wish from the [FIA] Endurance Commission and the people in charge at Le Mans is to try to find a way to make the qualifying sessions more spectacular in the world championship.

“At this moment we are working on the format for next year, so don’t be surprised if next year you see an evolution of the qualifying format in WEC.

“Regarding hyperpole, we have to be careful. Here [at Le Mans] the format is special. It is totally different to a normal WEC event.

“But for sure, the idea is to set up a new format next season, more spectacular and more in link with pure performance, with easy reading for the fans and something more attractive.

“The Endurance Commission took the decision two weeks ago to work on it, so we are working on it.

“It could happen before the end of the year to ensure that it registers in the sporting regulations for next season.”

Single-driver qualifying is already used in the European Le Mans Series where each category is given 10 minutes to let drivers post their fastest laps possible.

The Asian Le Mans Series has a near-identical format with 15-minute qualifying sessions for each class.

The current WEC system is more intricate, with two drivers taking turns to set flying laps and the average time between them being used to determine the starting order.

This system was introduced for the WEC’s second season in 2013 to highlight the teamwork element of endurance racing and to ensure cars stayed on-track at all times, rather than posting one time and sitting idle for the rest of the session.

ACO president Pierre Fillon added that the positive reception towards Le Mans Hyperpole could see the format return next year, as well as inspire tweaks to WEC qualifying.

“I think this kind of qualification is spectacular and it’s good for television,” he said.

“It’s good for the spectators. We will continue for Le Mans we are working with the Endurance Commission on the process of qualifying in WEC for next year.”

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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