The FIA World Endurance Championship could have an increased presence in North America next year with the potential addition of rounds in Montreal and Mexico City.
Speaking to Sportscar365, series boss Gerard Neveu confirmed talks have been ongoing with both Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit, although no announcement has been made for either potential event.
“We are always looking for interesting places around the world,” Neveu told Sportscar365. “For sure Montreal and Mexico are on the short list we are looking for because there is an interest.
“But we have to take into consideration many things, such as the slots available, the facilities, the contracts, the local promoter, the interest for the manufacturers and partners, the right opportunity or not.
“This is under discussion now but we will communicate on the new calendar very soon. We also have to consider the situation on the different places.”
One of the considerations is that upgrades to the Mexico City circuit, which will host F1 in November 2015, have not yet been completed, while Neveu said Montreal is set to receive a new pit complex in the coming months.
Work is also being done to Interlagos, which is due for a pit lane refresh as well. Neveu didn’t indicate whether that could also have an impact on the 2015 race. So far, only Le Mans and Bahrain have been confirmed for next year.
Neveu said he expects the 2015 schedule to be released during next month’s round at Japan’s Fuji Speedway, or possibly sooner if everything falls into place.
“It’s always about opportunities and it’s about the balance and a compromise between the number of races and the right opportunity you have,” he said. “What I’m sure is that we don’t like to do one shot.
“The strategy with the promoter and the partner is to try to establish a long-term event. When you decide to go somewhere, you have to be sure you can stay there for enough time.”
This weekend’s event at Circuit of The Americas could prove crucial in determining it’s long-term presence in the FIA WEC calendar, as the series is currently on a single-year contract with the track.
It came following a challenging inaugural event last year, which saw low attendance and complications with track management on the shared weekend with the ALMS.
Neveu, however, helped turn things around for 2014, which has seen the six-hour WEC race shift from Sunday to Saturday evening to follow the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event, giving fans nearly nine hours of racing action in a single day.
“We were facing some dissolution regarding the result of the weekend last year,” Neveu said. “We feel that this year looks better. We’re not at the final point that we’re looking for but we’ve grown up since last year.”
Advance ticket sales are up from last year, while hospitality suites have sold out. More entertainment options have been added, including a fireworks show and a concert from the Blue Oyster Cult.
Neveu said it’s their intention to return to COTA next year, with the goal of establishing it as a long-term event.
“We know that in the United States there’s not a lot of options for us and for the style of racing we have,” he said. “Historically you can say Sebring, Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca were the logical places to welcome endurance races. But we know that it’s technically impossible [now].
“In the end, Austin is a very impressive facility and the Circuit of The Americas is a top, world-standard race track in the USA. It’s exactly corresponding to the facilities we’re looking for LMP1 or very fast GT cars.
“I think it’s the place that we have to be at in the USA. The only difference is that at Sebring, IMSA has been organizing endurance events for many years and there is long [history].
“Austin just started last year. If we can get better figures this year, there is no reason to stop. We have to continue and we have to be passionate and build year after year on the right base, a long-term event.”