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WEC Considering “Rethink” of Joint IMSA Event at Sebring

ACO President says current Friday-Saturday format for Sebring “impossible” to maintain…

Photo: MPS Agency

The FIA World Endurance Championship is evaluating a “rethink” of its joint race weekend with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Sebring according to ACO President Pierre Fillon.

The head of the 24 Hours of Le Mans organizing body, which also co-runs the WEC with the FIA, explained that the current ‘Super Sebring’ format raises difficulties related to stakeholders that are involved in each of the two high-level sports car racing series.

Fillon told reporters that it would be “impossible” to maintain long-term the event format that was held in 2019 and last year, when the WEC staged a 1000-mile race on the Friday before IMSA ran the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the Saturday.

The same structure will be reprised for a third edition in mid-March when the new WEC season begins with an increased car count in the Hypercar class, however Sebring’s place on the 2024 schedule hasn’t been confirmed.

“The top priority is to come to the U.S.,” Fillon said.

“I love Sebring – it’s an iconic race. But it’s impossible to continue to have a race on Friday and a race on Saturday.

“It’s difficult for the sponsors and manufacturers to have two races [on one weekend]. We have to find another solution. What is the solution, I don’t know.

“The idea is to continue to have a common event with IMSA. But we are thinking about how we can do that.”

Fillon went on to say that the Sebring format needs a “rethink” but acknowledged that it is “too early” to divulge how that might pan out.

The WEC operates out of a temporary paddock and pit lane at Sebring, to accommodate a large number of cars at the event. It also holds an official test one weekend before the race, although the 2024 ‘Prologue’ is set to be attached to the 6 Hours of Qatar.

“It’s a good thing for Sebring to have two pit lanes,” Fillon said. “It’s not a question of space, it’s a question of timing.

“There is [a] conflict between our partners and sponsors. The level of the manufacturers is higher, so we have to rethink how this double event can be.”

When asked by Sportscar365 if the WEC could shift its North American round to another existing IMSA event, Fillon responded: “What I can say today is that our partnership will continue and we want to continue to have some common events. But it’s too early to answer.”

IMSA President John Doonan added that there is “more to come” on the subject of the shared Sebring event.

“Ed [Bennett, IMSA CEO] mentioned that we have a very active steering committee and we sit down and look at the big picture,” Doonan said.

“I think it’s our intent, always, as two entities, to do what’s right for the sport.

“I think we know how important the North American market is to both championships and to the brands that compete here.

“More to come on that, but just know we’re talking almost daily.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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