Sportscar365 caught up with ACO President Pierre Fillon for a wide-ranging interview covering the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the growth of WEC, its partnership with IMSA and the state of the Asian Le Mans Series.
What does it mean for Le Mans to see the return of Ford?
“For sure it’s been something very important. There’s a story between Ford and Le Mans. It was great.
“Everybody remembers what happened in ’66 and ’68 and a return of Ford is something very interesting. Everybody is very enthusiastic at this.
“I think in Le Mans this year, we’ll have a fantastic battle in LMP1. Toyota and Audi will have new cars, Porsche is very strong. In LMP1 it will be fantastic.
“But in GT, it will be the same because Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, Aston and Corvette. We’ll have a great race.
Have you been pleased to see how IMSA had adopted the GTE regulations into GTLM?
“As you know, the FIA and ACO works with IMSA to do this BoP. For sure, Daytona is the first race of the year, so the first BoP is here.
“Denis Chevier and Thierry Bouvet from the FIA and ACO were [in Daytona] and they worked with IMSA to work on the BoP. I think they did a good job.”
The WEC starts its fifth season this year. Did you imagine being in such a strong position in the championship?
“In my dream yes! For sure it’s a strong championship and it’s grown up very fast. I think now we are maturating. We have a strong grid. We have some strong manufacturers.
“There is a strong interest from P2 teams in WEC, so it’s good. In GT with the return of Ford, it’s great.
“We have [the addition] of Mexico. I think we’ll have an interesting season.”
What’s the next step or goal in continuing to build the WEC?
“We have to work on the TV and second screen because we really need to attract young fans. There’s a lot of young people that don’t know motorsport.
“It’s important to show them that it’s a very interesting sport, technical but human. This is our target.
“Our second target is to continue to attract [new] manufacturers. This is important.
“We also have to continue to control the costs and we have to know the future [LMP1] rules for after 2020. We have to work on what will be the new technologies for 2021.”
The Asian Le Mans Series has been gaining a lot of momentum too. Are you pleased with the year-to-year growth?
“Yes. I was in Sepang and I was able to speak with all of the team managers. I think the confidence is there.
“It’s a bit like what happened in the ELMS in 2012. Cyrille [Taesch Wahlen] has done a very good job.
“The grid is here now. We began the season with 13 cars and we finished the season with 20 cars. There is a great atmosphere in the paddock.
“All of the teams and drivers I met in Sepang are confident about the future. I think there is good momentum for next season.”