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Lequien: Expansion to Ninth Race Unlikely Before 2027

WEC CEO Frederic Lequien explains likely evolution of calendar for next seasons…

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

The FIA World Endurance Championship calendar is unlikely to expand to a ninth round until 2027, series boss Frederic Lequien has indicated following the reveal of next year’s schedule.

Despite talk of a potential new race being added to the calendar next year, the championship finally elected to maintain an unchanged roster of races, with a new four-year deal for Imola also being confirmed.

Lequien had suggested  at the end of 2023 that an extra race could be on the way for 2025, but finally the decision was made to stick to eight rounds.

Speaking to reporters after the ACO’s annual press conference at Le Mans, Lequien suggested that an extra race for 2026 remains unlikely for budget reasons.

“It’s very important to stabilize the calendar in terms of the number of rounds,” said Lequien. “We strongly believe that eight is the right number at the moment.

“We have to pay strong attention to the teams’ budgets; this is something that is clear in WEC’s success today. I’m not saying it’s affordable, but it’s not F1-level budgets, so maybe this is the reason we have such big success.

“This is also linked to the calendar and the logistical approach. Eight rounds is today the right number, and we will see in the future after this period of stabilization if we increase the number of rounds.

“We would like to visit many other countries, especially in Europe. But at the moment we are happy with this calendar and I know that the paddock is happy too.”

Asked if he expected a ninth race beyond 2025, Lequien replied: “We will see, but I do not believe in 2026 we will have more races. Maybe in 2027. It depends on many parameters.

“We have to pay attention to the budget side and when we stabilize everything, we will have smooth discussions with the paddock.

“If the paddock agrees to a ninth round, we will do it.”

“No Reason to Move Away” From COTA Post-2025 

COTA remaining on the schedule comes at a time that the Roger Penske-owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been heavily linked to a future WEC round, although Penske himself ruled out a 2025 race earlier in the year.

But Lequien has suggested that COTA could become a long-term fixture on the calendar following the Austin venue rejoining the schedule in place of Sebring this year.

“I would say that we started to learn [about] each other and we are very satisfied with the first year of collaboration,” he said. “The layout of the track is fantastic and it’s a very nice place in the U.S.

“We have to cover the U.S. market, so that’s the main reason we resigned for 2025, and at the moment I do not see a reason to change for the future.”

The reveal of the 2025 calendar was accompanied by the news that the full-season grid will expand to 40 cars for next year, up from the current number of 37 cars.

COTA was one of two tracks, along with Imola, whose capacity limits had effectively capped the grid at 37 cars.

While Imola has pledged to undertake works to expand the number of cars it can accommodate as part of its new contract, question remarks remain over the status of COTA in this regard.

However, Lequien suggested that the need to expand the grid to make space for Aston Martin’s two-car Hypercar effort trumped any short-term capacity concerns.

“We still have a small issue with COTA for 2025, but we will manage this with the teams,” said Lequien. “They understand that we need to increase the number of cars.

“It would have been a missed opportunity not to expand the grid. So we will do it, but we will do it with a lot of comfort for everyone.

“We are not crazy, we had a lot of discussions with them. If we took this decision, it means we can do it.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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