FIA World Endurance Championship boss Gerard Neveu has voiced his support of IMSA, as the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based sanctioning body goes through a challenging start with its new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The first two races of the TUDOR Championship have been overshadowed in controversy, with questions over Balance of Performance, a late-race ruling reversal in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and mistakes in race control at Sebring that potentially affected the results in two classes.
“At this period, everybody is very impatient,” Neveu said Friday at Paul Ricard, site of last weekend’s FIA WEC pre-season test. “People want things immediately and new things perfect from the first time.
“In real life, it’s not like this. When you start a new… championship like our colleagues from the United States have, it’s very challenging and difficult, as [we learned] from the WEC two years ago.”
Neveu played a pivotal role in the launch of the FIA WEC, which enters its third season after admittedly battling through a challenging start.
Peugeot abruptly pulled the plug on its factory LMP1 program less than two months before the series’ launch in 2012, leaving Audi as the only full-season works prototype effort.
However, two years later, the FIA WEC has grown to new heights, with the arrival of Porsche, which joins Audi and Toyota with full works squads, resulting in a significant growth in media interest.
“I think we have to be a little bit patient because IMSA is working very hard to try and provide a good series,” Neveu said. “This is not in their own interest to have any problems with the technical regulations or anything like this.
“You have to consider that in order to mature and have an idea about the real value of any product… We probably have to wait for one season for some races and experience and get some different figures. At the end, we’ll know if it works or not.
“The very best example for that was the ELMS. Two years ago when the ACO decided to give [the rights] to LMEM, there were 12 cars on the grid and [it was] a disaster. It was easy to say then that it doesn’t work.
“We made some modifications and we had 20, 22, 24 and 26 cars. We were still discussing with them and made another modification… As soon as we established a good base for the season, we made it.”
Under Neveu’s direction, the ELMS now sees a 40-plus grid this year, along with the races increased from three to four hours in length and a move back to standalone events.
As for the FIA WEC’s relationship with IMSA, Neveu stresses that it hasn’t changed, despite the TUDOR Championship’s arguably rocky start.
Both organizations recently met at Circuit of The Americas to finalize the schedule and promotion for the FIA WEC/TUDOR Championship double-header in September, which will, for the first time, feature both races on the same day.
“For sure, the WEC is very trusting in its partners in USA because we are in the same boat,” he said. “The ACO are in the exact same position.
“Pierre [Fillon] and Jim France are working very closely together and there’s the committee between ACO and IMSA working. Every three months we have a meeting together, in order to try and work together.
“They are building something… Don’t consider the first level as the finished level.”