The FIA World Endurance Championship has scrapped its two-driver, average-based qualifying format in favor of a new single-driver process ahead of the 2021 season.
Coinciding with Friday’s opening of entry applications for next year’s campaign, the WEC has outlined several sporting updates, including a change to the qualifying rules.
The qualifying process will move away from the current format that sees two drivers share a car over the course of a 20-minute session, with their average time used to determine the starting order in each class.
From next year the series will implement a “more simple and transparent” procedure.
Two ten minute sessions – one for Hypercar/LMP2 and one for GTE – will be held.
Bronze-rated drivers will be required to qualify their cars in the GTE-Am category, while cars that don’t set a time during their session will start from the back of the entire grid.
The two-driver, average-based qualifying format was conceived ahead of the 2013 season after single-driver qualifying was used during the WEC’s inaugural 2012 campaign.
It was designed to keep cars running on track for the whole session rather than posting a single flying time, and to highlight the teamwork aspect of endurance racing.
However, the average-based nature of the scores made qualifying more complicated.
A switch to a simpler format was suggested after the successful debut of the new Hyperpole system that decided the grid for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Moving to single-driver qualifying brings the WEC in-line with the European and Asian Le Mans Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, all of which use variations of the same process.
LMP2 Pro-Am Category Gets Go-Ahead
The WEC has also confirmed the arrival of a new LMP2 Pro-Am classification that will be exclusively for lineups featuring a Bronze-rated driver.
It will exist alongside the LMP2 ‘overall’ competition, similar to how the Asian Le Mans Series organizes an LMP2 Am Trophy within its main LMP2 category.
The introduction of a new sub-class for LMP2 has enabled the WEC to maintain the driver lineup rating requirements that were in force during the 2019-20 season.
Each crew must have at least one FIA-registered Bronze or Silver competitor, while the Pro-Am entries will vie for their own drivers’ and teams’ championships.
Bronze-rated drivers had been keen to tighten the driver lineup rules for 2021, in order to close the gap between entries running a Silver – who could be a young professional – and those fielding a Bronze amateur.
Rather than closing up the competition for ‘outright’ class wins, Bronze drivers will now have their own title to work towards.
The introduction of an LMP2 Pro-Am division was reported in October after the championship overturned an FIA announcement that two Silvers or a single Bronze would become the minimum requirements next season.
An LMP2 Pro-Am classification with separate podiums and points scores will also be added to the European Le Mans Series.
Entry applications to the 2021 WEC and Le Mans will remain open until Jan. 14.