FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu says the concept of GTE qualifying races would “upgrade the show” should it be introduced into the championship next year.
The proposed format, which is understood to be a 60-minute sprint race, potentially with a pit stop and driver change, would feature on Saturdays prior to the WEC’s regular-season headline races.
Neveu said the concept, which would set the GTE grid for Sunday’s race, has been in the works for more than a year but didn’t make it into this year’s championship due to the late confirmation of the category’s new World Championship status.
“Due to the fact we received the green light for the world title very late last year, we immediately asked because we were investigating the idea of doing a sprint race on the qualifying session,” Neveu explained.
“We investigated the idea with the manufacturers and said it could be a good idea [for 2018].
“But the process with the FIA to make sure it can be introduced in the sporting regulations takes a lot of time because you must go through the Sporting Commission.
“The FIA said it was not reasonable to introduce it immediately in 2017 because they need to have a little bit more time to investigate all the parameters.
“This is why it’s now between the people of the Sporting and Technical Working Group and manufacturers.
“If it’s still with an optimistic view from the different partners, it would be introduced for 2018.”
While the format is still being defined, GTE manufacturers have shared support in the concept.
“I think it’s exciting,” Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw told Sportscar365. “It would be good for the sport, good for the teams, good for the drivers and good for the fans.
“We’d just need to fine-tune the details and the regulations, discuss it, and make sure everyone agrees.”
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell added: “It’s something where the details would need to get agreed on.
“We have an open mind about it and have privately submitted our views to the FIA on it.”
Neveu said putting the production-based cars in the spotlight, amid the arrival of a fifth GTE manufacturer in BMW for next year, would be good for the series.
“The idea is to do something a little bit different and to do something very attractive,” he said.
“We know that for these [type] of cars, there’s also sometimes a story in sprint, so we can do it on the same weekend.
“It’s just to try to upgrade the show for the fans on-site and the viewers on TV. It makes sense to do something like this if possible.”
It’s understood further details on the planned format will come later this summer.