The FIA World Endurance Championship round at Sebring has been moved to Friday, in a change of the weekend format that will see the race reduced from 1,500 to 1,000 miles and construction of a dedicated pit lane.
In a joint announcement issued on Wednesday, officials from the WEC and IMSA confirmed that the 1000 Miles of Sebring will now take place on Friday March 15, 2019, prior to the start of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday morning, which remains as originally scheduled.
Initially, the sixth round of the 2018-19 season was due to get underway around 12 a.m. on Sunday following the completion of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round.
It will now run to 1,000 miles or a maximum of eight hours, beginning Friday afternoon.
The WEC will make use of a separate, newly installed pit lane adjacent to the Ulmann Straight, allowing a smoother, faster transition between on-track sessions for the different championships.
Its paddock will run concurrently to the IMSA paddock, which remains in its current location, towards Turn 16, with a test day for WEC teams to be held in the run-up to the race weekend.
The changes comes after a visit to the historic airfield circuit by a delegation of WEC officials last month, which included CEO Gerard Neveu, logistics, marketing and media staff.
“Everyone went in to the meeting with a willingness to find a solution which worked well for all of us, knowing that some flexibility would be required on both sides, and the key points such as the schedule and the pit lane and paddock were agreed very quickly,” Neveu said.
“We would like to sincerely thank Scott Atherton and all his team at IMSA, Wayne Estes and his staff at Sebring Raceway for the co-operation, flexibility and positive attitude they displayed throughout the recent weekend.
“We received a very warm welcome, had many meetings while in Florida, and a lot of the logistical bumps have already been smoothed out ready for the WEC’s visit next year.”
Details on the full weekend schedule and slate of support series have yet to be announced.
The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, which will be known as the Michelin SportsCar Challenge beginning next year, typically runs its race on the Friday afternoon, following WeatherTech Championship qualifying.
“There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the initial announcement of this combined event, but we always believed we could all find solutions to the many questions and challenges that needed to be addressed to host two world-class events on one weekend,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said. “And that’s exactly what we did.
“In the weeks and months ahead, we know this spirit of cooperation will continue as we complete the process of planning what promises to be an unprecedented showcase of sports car endurance racing for the fans – and competitors in each championship.”
Sebring International Raceway General Manager Wayne Estes added: “From the beginning, we knew things would be adjusted to make this work for the teams, for the fans, and for the integrity of the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of work and cooperation among all parties to produce the best possible event for the world’s sports car racing enthusiasts.”