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Neveu Insists Sebring Double Header Will Happen

WEC boss Gerard Neveu insists the Sebring 2019 event will go ahead as planned…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu is adamant that its race at Sebring will go ahead as planned, despite increasing doubts over the event’s logistics and feasibility.

The March 2019 race, planned as a double-header weekend with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is set to feature a 1,500-mile WEC round following the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Questions over paddock and pit lane space, particularly in the planned two-hour transition period from the end of the IMSA race to the start of the WEC round around midnight, has raised questions whether it could be effectively pulled off.

Neveu, however, said the challenges presented at Sebring are similar to those they faced at Circuit of The Americas in 2014, in the first same-day WEC/IMSA double-header race.

“I’m sure we can do it,” Neveu told Sportscar365. “When you start to do something different, people are always concerned.

“I remember when we went to COTA together, everyone said it would be impossible to remove the pit wall to do everything, it would be impossible to race together [on the same weekend].

“Honestly, if we want to do it, we can do it. I can’t see why this is so impossible.

“We will have this incredible chance to propose for the American fans a double race in the same weekend, a double big event.”

Neveu and ACO President Pierre Fillon met with representatives from IMSA and Sebring International Raceway last month at Daytona, with the WEC logistics team set to attend the 12-hour race in March to continue preparations. 

“We had meetings with Wayne [Estes, track president] and the people from Sebring,” Neveu said. “You will see a serious delegation of operational guys from WEC in Sebring this year, just to set up everything.

“We are working very well on that. This is already on the table. You will see many people in Sebring this year to work on it and check all the details.”

While rumors of a new, seperate pit lane for WEC competitors had surfaced, track president Wayne Estes told Sportscar365 it’s not an option.

Estes said plans for a new crossover bridge on the Ulmann Straight, to help expand competitor parking, has been put on hold for the time being.

Both Neveu and Estes indicated that compromises will have to be made with pit lane setups, in order to accommodate both IMSA and WEC teams during the weekend.

“I’m sure we will find a solution and we will be able to share the pit lane,” Neveu said. “I believe that the people from Porsche, all the GTE teams will be able to share together.

“We have to try to be creative. It will be [a big], a strong effort, but there are a lot of professional people in IMSA and I believe there is a good team also in WEC.

“I don’t see any reason why we cannot do it to achieve it.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

61 Comments

61 Comments

  1. jason

    February 6, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I’m sure they can pull it off. I just question the rush in having a 2 hour turn around time. Take your time and let it be 3-4 hours. That way we’ll get more daylight racing on Sunday for the WEC race anyway. Slow down and breathe folks.

  2. Chase

    February 6, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Problem is who’s gonna watch the WEC race. The race starts at midnight local time I think. That’s 5:00 AM in Europe. That’s super early. Europeans will be able to watch the race but surely most Americans will not stay up all night!

    • thomas

      February 6, 2018 at 9:52 am

      it’s about 6am on the continent. I think they want the idea of a race that starts in the dark. Aside from about 20 minutes at bathurst that doesn’t happen anywhere else

    • Andy Flinn

      February 6, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      I’m more curious what ALL of the WEC drivers, crews and officials will be doing ALL DAY SATURDAY while the 12 hours is raging. The goal is to be fresh for the midnight start, right?

      Will there be soundproof motorhomes? Will the WEC be flying in fresh drivers from hotels in Miami or Tampa?

      Since the WEC y will be dealing with a big time change, will the WEC also be practicing at midnight on Thursday and qualifying at midnight on Friday?

      If it happens, I’ll be right there at the fence to watch it.

      • Jenner

        February 6, 2018 at 10:35 pm

        These drivers and teams are professionals. They race all over the world adjusting to different time zone, weather, cultures.

        I’m sure they’ll find a local gator farm to stay entertained during the day.

    • Marc

      February 7, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Everyone was watching Bathurst 12 Hours, it started 5:45 am in Australia Time. I don’t think it will be a problem

    • GTurner38

      February 8, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Do people watch the overnight hours of Le Mans or Daytona? Plenty of people will be up to watch the whole race and actually have the benefit of a 2 hour break to take a nap if they need to.

  3. Joe

    February 6, 2018 at 9:27 am

    I’ll be going to the 12 hr…and leaving when it is over. Hopefully they don’t jack the price up because WEC is there.

    • SportscarFan

      February 6, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Seems like a petty attitude to take to be honest.

      • Northstar

        February 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

        Not everyone can stay Sunday and need that day to start traveling home.

        • Joe

          February 6, 2018 at 12:06 pm

          That’s exactly it. Not petty at all.

  4. Edo

    February 6, 2018 at 9:49 am

    They’ve only to start the race on sunday morning. Full stop.

  5. Change it up

    February 6, 2018 at 10:15 am

    I’m sure they can get this event to work out. I agree with Jason in that they should take 3-4 hours in between since it’ll be an optimal time for sleep for the fans. Don’t worry WEC and IMSA, you’ve got my attention with this being a double header, I’ll be flying in from Rhode Island to see this once in a lifetime spectacle!!

    • tracer

      February 6, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      I’m also sure they’ll get the logistics worked out, and I’m right there with ya in hoping they give us a few extra hours to grab some sleep by extending the time between races. Either way, having been to a handful of 12 Hours myself, I’ll definitely be back at Sebring for this event next year (instead of Daytona) purely because of this double header…

  6. Tim

    February 6, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I am very excited for the double header. Hope it goes as planned!

  7. Larry

    February 6, 2018 at 10:28 am

    As a corner worker, I am just wondering when we get to sleep. 🙂

    I have worked corners for the 12 Hour since 1984 and am looking forward to this but it’s gonna be exhausting.

    What I would like to see is the regular 12 Hour in March and WEC come down in October of each year. We used to do an “Octoberfest” in Sebring with several 12 hour Firehawk races, the old SuperCar races, etc and it was always great to go to Sebring twice a year.

    And before that dildo comes in and tells us we don’t need corner workers, that may be true in some of the lesser series in Europe, but not WEC, Blancpain, PWC, or IMSA.

    Just ask the drivers if they want us out there.

    • Andy

      February 6, 2018 at 10:40 am

      How do you guys work corners and shifts for the Rolex 24 HOUR race? There you go…

      • Larry

        February 6, 2018 at 8:42 pm

        We usually don’t have the staff that we have for Daytona but there will probably be a lot of folks who want to work this historical weekend so yeah, I guess we will have enough folks

    • Andy Flinn

      February 6, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Larry, IMSA and the WEC would probably have to staff it like a traditional Rolex 24 at Daytona race. It would require cooperation, though.

      • Larry

        February 6, 2018 at 8:44 pm

        BTW Andy, we were quite shorthanded at the 24.

        Lot of people just don’t want to deal with the way we get treated by the track.

    • Rus'L

      February 6, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      They are going to do the IMSA Encore in November at Sebring. Mostly GT classes, but still kind of similar to the Octoberfest event you mention.

      • Larry

        February 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm

        Goin’ down for that, for sure. 🙂

  8. Louis

    February 6, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Great for the American fans? How? By giving them a race that they will see very little of? You’re arrogance is going to be your down fall Mr. Neveau

    • jason

      February 6, 2018 at 10:45 am

      What the heck are you talking about? Such a downer. The only thing needed is to not rush for a 2 am start. Just start it at something like 4 or 5 am.

      • tracer

        February 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

        This.

      • GTurner38

        February 8, 2018 at 7:59 pm

        I think they are going for a midnight start since Sebring normally wraps up around 10:40 but could be pushed earlier. As for being great for American fans, it’s great because they get what amounts to a 24 hour event. It’s not going to be any worse than watching races from Asia or giving the European fans a midnight start for a race from COTA. Treat it like you would treat Le Mans, which is ultimately a longer day with the 3:00pm finish versus a noon finish for this new Sebring race.

    • RobertB

      February 6, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      Plenty of Americans watch Le Mans and Daytona into the wee hours of the night. No different.

      • Be realistic fans

        February 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm

        Alert Webster, plenty has been reclasses to mean well under 1/100th of 1%. Plenty is a HUGE stretch. And yes, I am intentionally excluding those who are already fans, cause you aren’t growing a damn thing by getting their eyes. That’s not growth, it’s stagnant at best. And looking at the numbers for US viewership, well let’s say don’t expect new sponsors any time soon. Rolex was one of the lowest rated shows and is estimated to have lost to infomercials in the overnight blocks so don’t crow about who watches.

        • N8

          February 6, 2018 at 3:04 pm

          No one is watching endurance racing on television.

          The only place there’s meaningful growth for the ACO is in Asia. An Asia-friendly start time makes perfect sense if that’s your marketing approach.

        • RobertB

          February 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm

          I meant existing fans.

  9. Slicks in the wet

    February 6, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I’m American. I barely care about WEC outside of Le Mans.

    And I can say:

    This is a race weekend I’m definitely looking forward to seeing.

    Can’t stay awake? Babies…

    • Mike S

      February 6, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Agreed. WEC is all but done with its NA stops by leaving Mexico and COTA and everyone complaining about start time. I get logistics of starting close to end of IMSA’s race that’s tough. Track cleaning, pit changes etc.

  10. Wayne’s Estes

    February 6, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Cut it down to a six hour race. Start at 10 am EST Sunday – 4 pm in Europe.

    The problem is you’re going to see a lot of campers leaving….

    • thomas

      February 7, 2018 at 3:16 am

      that rather defeats all the stated purposes of the race

  11. TF110

    February 6, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    I think the race will be a success. There’s plenty of people that will stay for the wec round and they will be treated to a great race. Plus the chance to see Alonso as I think he will still be with Toyota because he’s contracted for the super season this year and 2019. That includes Sebring. I am going to try my best to make this race!

  12. Lilgriff

    February 6, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    As a sportscar fan and someone who has been going to Sebring for forty years, I will not stay for the start of the WEC race . I think it’s a terrible idea to start a new race at midnight. A six hour typical WEC race starting at 9 am Sunday would be much better in my opinion. Either way there will be a steady flow of Sebring regulars flowing out of the gate at sun up . I will watch the finish while I tear down my rig.

  13. Lanky Turtle

    February 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I’m excited about seeing the races, I’m just thinking about how tired I usually am Saturday night after wandering all around the track in the sun for 3 days. I’ll see the beginning and end at least, and hopefully the whole thing if they push it back to sunday morning.

  14. RobertB

    February 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Lots of negativity. It’s pretty easy to come up with a list of reasons why stuff won’t work. It’s a lot harder to come up with something new and to try something different. If the WEC wants to give it a try, go for it. Who cares? If it doesn’t work out then it’ll be for only one year and all you complainers can get a sore arm from patting yourself on the back.

    • Be realistic fans

      February 6, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      So because it is a bad idea, we should all sit on our hands and pretend we love it. Even though NOTHING in the WEC’s history has shown they can make something work well. They managed to piss off just about everyone at IMSA last go around with this in Austin and the teams especially. The teams were promised time to take down their pit kit before the WEC event, until Sat and they were told sorry, tough shit, you’re here until we’re done, we are the big show. And then the attendance numbers showed, nope, really you weren’t. Traffic started flowing out minutes after the IMSA event and teams were stuck much later than they wanted to be. The teams told IMSA ‘no chance in hell’ when asked about it again.

      The history shows the WEC cannot get out of their own way. Why would we think they can do this when leaving Sebring already is a shit show without limited exits?

      • RobertB

        February 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm

        Merging the ALMS and Grand Am is a bad idea. DPi is a bad idea. Automatic BoP is a bad idea. Sharing COTA is a bad idea. Changing the brand of hot dogs relish at Mid Ohio is a bad idea. *Yawn*. My whole point is, instead of burning calories writing lists of everything that is wrong with a new idea, why not just sit back and actually wait to see what happens? If it turns out to be a disaster, then fire up the computer after the checkered flag and complain away.

        • tracer

          February 6, 2018 at 5:14 pm

          Couldn’t agree with this more.

      • Larry

        February 6, 2018 at 8:48 pm

        Boy, I bet you are a blast at parties (meaning “be realistic”).

        Is your whole life this negative?

        If you don’t want to watch, fine, but stop trying to tell others that they shouldn’t watch.

        • Be realistic fans

          February 7, 2018 at 7:55 am

          Wow, realistic now means negative?? That’s the bs argument each party makes about why the other is wrong. It’s not negative to look at the previous record of a series and see that they have actually screwed up EVERY SINGLE THING they claim to improve.

          LMP1 is DEAD for privateers, no sorry one simple straight line test for the only privateer car does not mean they’re back. No one can afford to run one and they will not last cause they can’t keep up with 1000 hp cars.

          LMP2 is a joke and the drivers are even worse than LMPC guys were.

          GTE-AM is full of whinging and crying teams over who gets the most recent updates and who can do what instead of actual racing. Need to just kill is off, 2 GT classes of differing cars was fine but mandating year old cars just seems like a fool’s errand

          ELMS/LMES is ridiculous and I’ve seen better vintage racing, the gap from leaders to the rest is worse than club racing

          AsianLMS can’t figure out what it wants to be and constantly seems to be dying.

          WEC can’t find tracks outside of Asia and Middle East who can and want to support their costs consistently. Or so the tracks have claimed but thankfully not the extent of F1, yet.

          Austin couldn’t get fans to stay after the IMSA race for the WEC and the cameras couldn’t hide the streams of cars down the road.

          And I never said no one should watch, I said to expect it not to work out. I could not care any less what you watch. But hey if English is that hard for you to read you could also do like the rest of the idiots and vote party lines instead of reading.

          Let’s see that’s 0-6, how is that being negative when past history shows the ACO could screw up almost everything with their ego

  15. Bob bechtel

    February 6, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Wow so many naysayers this is chance to see 2 12hr races. I live here in Sebring and sure will be staying. Will b offering any assistance to Wayne and his staff to get this thing off the ground this will be my first chance to see a we race. If you are so unhappy please don’t come.

    • Wayne’s Estes

      February 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Sounds like you’re a great ambassador for our town and The Race Bob. I’m sure the track and Wayne appreciate it.

    • Tim

      February 6, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      Naysayers gonna nay say.

  16. Scott

    February 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Count me in as someone who can’t wait! I went to every visit the WEC made to Austin, at least this time I won’t have to get on an airplane. The party at Sebring in 2019 is going to be INSANE!!!

  17. Redcap

    February 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    53 year Sebring vet here. I say, WEC BRING IT! I agree with Lanky Turtle. I get to the track on Wednesday and I’m exhausted by Saturday morning. And then the 12hrs. starts! it’s a good bet 1500 miles at Sebring will take longer than 12 hours. If I don’t survive, burry me in the hairpin!

  18. Matt

    February 6, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    I think they should start around 5-6am and give everyone the chance for some rest and it’ll be fine. Lol @ the losers who don’t want to see a WEC race. With the WEC’s 25 car field though, I wish IMSA would just let the WEC cars run in the regular 12 hours and allow P1 to win overall again for one year.

  19. Kirk

    February 6, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve never been to Sebring but plan to check it off my bucket list in 2019. I’m hoping nothing changes schedule-wise, but wouldn’t be surprised if things get altered. The idea of a race starting at midnight is so off the wall I couldn’t possibly miss it. The big question is: Will the WEC allow the fans to do a pre-race gridwalk? Wouldn’t it be cool to do a gridwalk at 11PM on Saturday night? Fun stuff.

  20. Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

    February 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I suspectmassiveamounts of chaos will
    be the theme for this event. Sebring will look Ben more lime a disaster are about sunrise on Sunday.i am planning on being right in the middle of it

    • Slicks in the wet

      February 6, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      I seee you’ve started drinking already!!

      May God have mercy upon the porta-potties!

  21. Andy Flinn

    February 6, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Matt, IMSA (ALMS) already tried that in 2012. The podium ceremonies after the race lasted another 12 hours because someone insisted on separate classes for almost everything.

    In 2013 the WEC split for Texas and inevitable failure. Anyone who has ever camped at Sebring for the 12 hour could have seen that coming and knew that CoTA was never going to work.

    So although I am curious to see if this 2019 WEC race actually happens (and I will be at Sebring to watch it if it does), my confidence that the WEC knows what they’re doing (especially in this country) is about as shaky as some of the wooden viewing platforms I’ve seen erected in Green Park.

    Good luck.

  22. Alexander Angeles

    February 6, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    I’m really excited about the dual 12hr race idea. As a race fan I can’t get enough racing. I don’t really follow or care about the WEC but I will for sure watch their race if it happens at Sebring no matter how late they start the race.

  23. Jenner

    February 6, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Wow! After visiting Sebring in 2012 for the first time, I thought the Sebring campers were quite the hearty race fan. Smart, loyal, friendly, loves to party, great knowledge of the heritage of the 12 hrs of Sebring.

    But interrupt they’re beauty sleep with roaring P2’s and GTE’s and they crumble like a cookie.

    I just did the Rolex 24 for my first time last week and I found that the race flew by for me. I’m gonna try my best to catch this race when the WEC visits. I promise to tippy toe around your tent and keep my voice down to a whisper.

  24. Bjones

    February 6, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Well, well, how many of you naysayers are experts at running a race? This is Sebring folks!! We will see that it happens as we did in 1952. One rich guy and one guy with a great idea but they needed someone to do the logistics. Hire someone you say,ah hell nah. The people of Sebring stood up and made it happen and they still are: so you naysayers stay home and beat on them keys. Yes my Grandfather was one of those who made it happen and I have been working that track for over 30 years. This is Sebring we will make it happen. Wayne will have all the help he will need. You say it can’t happen:Hold My Beer. Fans in Europe love Sebring and to have it start at 6:00am and finish at 6:00PM, Brilliant. Stay at home or come to (An Happening).
    And yes it will be tough but most great things are: One more thing this is not COTA, Please do not degrade Sebring like that.bb

  25. Paul.

    February 6, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    I am excited to see this happen. I have only been to Sebring once for the 12 Hours back in 2008, and it was awesome.

    If there is a 12 hour IMSA event followed by a 1,500 mile WEC event, I will be doing everything I can to get my butt to Florida that weekend.

    Make it happen boys.

  26. John

    February 6, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Has anyone asked Alonso and Toyota what time they’d like the race to start?

    Just kidding!

    It will be interesting no matter what ends up happening, so I hope they can pull it off.

  27. i dont know

    February 7, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I wish they could race together. didnt Sebring has 63 cars racing in ’97? yes i know it will never happen

    • Bjones

      February 8, 2018 at 5:40 am

      Actually Sebring started like 90 plus cars in the seventies,but it was on the old 5.2 course, plus no one used big haulers just a p/u and trailer. Just for thought there was over 200 cars racing last weekend and it was not an SCCA event.

      • Andy Flinn

        February 8, 2018 at 12:31 pm

        They started 84 cars in 1983. The field consumed so much race fuel that IMSA had to throw an extended yellow so the fuel truck could make it back.

        I believe teams SHARED pit stalls. They had a lot of volunteer crews and not as much pit equipment. But that was back when Sebring was a torturous endurance test. There wasn’t much pre-race testing so attrition rates were relatively high. A lot higher than what we see these days. Only a third of the 74 cars that started in 1985 finished the race.

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