FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu says that he’s “sure” Shanghai will return to the WEC schedule in the future despite it not currently being a priority for the globe-trotting championship for the short-term.
Announced during Thursday’s calendar reveal for the 2020-21 season, the WEC will not return to Shanghai International Circuit for the first time in eight years.
The Chinese venue, along with Spa-Francorchamps, Fuji Speedway, Silverstone and Le Mans, have been ever-present on the calendar since the championship’s re-launch in 2012.
“It’s always a challenging decision,” Neveu said. “Nothing is definitive. A calendar is something that evolves. We didn’t come to Bahrain last year and we’re back. Sometimes you have surprises like this and sometimes you know in advance.
“Clearly it was difficult to be back in Shanghai at this period now. We didn’t find the priority to do it.
“I’m sure Shanghai will be back one day. It’s a question of what is the priority of the paddock and what is the wish from the people from China.
“I think we will have another opportunity, like other places in the world.”
Neveu indicated that the influx of manufacturers in the early years of the WEC helped justify the event, which has seen less activation in the two most recent editions of the race.
“A few years ago, manufacturers made a huge activation,” he said. “It was [important] for them to be there and a major event, which was not the case in the last two years.
“All of the journalists that visited the place knew that very well.
“I think it’s not a current priority but it can be back [in the future]. We will see with Peugeot. The situation is evolving very quickly so you have to be ready to adapt your calendar season after season.”
Cheng: No Chinese Round “Disappointing” for Jackie Chan DC Racing
While disappointed with the news, Jackie Chan DC Racing team co-owner David Cheng admitted the WEC’s decision is understandable and is hopeful for a return to the China, potentially at a different circuit, in the future.
The JOTA-run operation is the first and only full-season Chinese-flagged team in WEC competition.
“It’s disappointing for us and a lot of our partners,” Cheng told Sportscar365. “It is a world championship as well. The fact that Brazil was canceled, for a lot of the Brazilian drivers it was a shame as well.
“For a lot of manufacturers, maybe the China market isn’t what it used to be, especially at the height in 2011. I could understand the move and I’m sure maybe after a few years it will come back.
“Whether it’s Shanghai or elsewhere. Last year there were 77 proposals for racetracks in China.
“Half of them were probably unrealistic projects but as we saw last year, four tracks were built last year, in addition to street circuits.”