On the heels of a successful event in Spa, which drew in an improved weekend attendance of 46,000 spectators, the FIA World Endurance Championship shifts its focus to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the signature race in the globe-trotting series’ calendar. (En Français)
Endurance-Info caught up with FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu to get his thoughts on the first two rounds of 2014, comment on some of the latest rumors from the paddock and also evaluate the car count situation for both the 24-hour race and second half of the season.
After some challenges last year, did the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps meet your expectations?
“This year, everything worked as it should. I believe that everyone unanimously enjoyed the event. Spa has its legitimacy in the championship. You cannot hide the arrival of Porsche combined with the presence of Mark Webber that gave a breath of fresh air. With each new constructor, there’s a new life.
“There were a set of things that really helped us make this a nice event, including the weather. The fans were out in sunshine to watch the race. The ACO has continued to promote events in a consistent and very focused manner. The championship is growing.”
Has the arrival of the FIA WEC App been an asset to the championship’s growth?
“The number of downloads is already ahead of schedule. The App will soon be switched into Le Mans mode. The work done by the various teams has been huge. At Le Mans, the coverage will be complete.
“We will give the App a year to settle. We will then look in detail to see what can be improved before making changes. It’s a real valuable tool. It was made by people who know motorsport, which is a real plus.”
There’s been a rumor that the championship could go to Montreal in 2015. Can you comment?
“For every time you’d see me speak with a circuit manager, there would be many rumors. I cannot comment on this rumor. The French have a good relationship with Quebecers. The FIA WEC is growing interest in more circuits.
“We are watching [developments] worldwide. To return to Montreal, it’s not a place in contradiction with endurance.”
It appears new manufacturers are throwing their hat into the LMP1 field…
“More and more manufacturers have [reached out] and are interested to understand our approach and strategy. Pierre Fillon and myself travel a lot, and it’s not only to circuits.”
We’ve also heard that LMP2 and GTE-Am could in the future be dropped in the FIA WEC to make way for more manufacturers. Is this true?
“This is not on the agenda. One cannot deny that we’ve lost cars in LMP2 but we should recover. The season has been a little more complicated.”
Do you think eliminating the driver categorizations in LMP2 could be a good idea?
“A study on the LMP2 category is underway. We must ensure that the class finds its true place.”
Are there any fears that the car count could decrease after Le Mans?
“The FIA WEC is not [just] a ticket to Le Mans. Of course, there could be [situations of] force majeure. But we hope to have a few more cars in the second half of the season.”
After two races, are you pleased with the new LMP1 formula?
“The ACO has established a good foundation that goes in the right direction. Manufacturers have done a good job by testing and preparing on good tracks.
“In addition, the LMP1-L category is just waiting to be developed. Rebellion and ORECA have done a very good job and I hope others will arrive. The moment of truth will be Le Mans. It will be a be a great race.”