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WEC ‘Needs to Look at How to Balance Places’ on 2024 Grid

WEC to “manage” class structure for 2024 amid rising number of Hypercar entries…

Photo: MPS Agency

FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Frederic Lequien says the series needs to “look at how to balance the places” on its 2024 grid, amid suggestions that the LMP2 class will be phased out after next season.

Rising numbers of entries in the top Hypercar division and expected high interest in the GT3 class, which will replace GTE after next year, are likely to impact where LMP2 is active beyond 2023.

Lequien told Sportscar365 that LMP2 will hold a long-term place on the 24 Hours of Le Mans grid but wouldn’t say whether it will be removed from the rest of the WEC.

No announcement has been made, but it’s understood that after next year the platform in Europe will be concentrated on the European Le Mans Series, with a selection of those teams also racing at Le Mans where there is a 62-car maximum grid and room for more than two classes.

However, the WEC’s maximum field size is just over half the Le Mans number due to the championship’s appearance at circuits with fewer pit garage spaces.

Based on currently confirmed programs, at least 15 factory Hypercar entries are expected in 2024, while a small number of customer efforts and potential cars from the likes of Glickenhaus and ByKolles would raise the total towards and possibly beyond 20.

“What do we know today about the next few years? We will see more Hypercars,” said Lequien.

“We need to look at how to balance the places in the other classes.

“Regarding LMP2, we are simply convinced that it is a fantastic class and that this class will be eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a long time. This is a very important category for us.

“I’m saying that, for total transparency, it’s too early to talk about the makeup for 2024 at the moment.

“I can’t say that we will or won’t have LMP2 in WEC, but everybody understands that we will have more and more Hypercars and the GT3 regulations will bring some new brands to the WEC.

“Then, we manage it. Whatever will be the decision, we will protect the LMP2 category.”

LMP2 will be active in the WEC next year, with several teams already committed or planning to race there.

Alpine is set to join the class next season once its Hypercar-class LMP1 machine retires after next month’s 8 Hours of Bahrain season finale, however the French manufacturer will then return to the top tier when its ORECA-based LMDh arrives in 2024.

Furthermore, Team WRT is set to continue its two-car LMP2 effort next season but will then graduate to Hypercar as the factory team for the BMW LMDh program.

Another prominent LMP2 outfit, JOTA, will field a Porsche 963 LMDh in the WEC from next year, placing its second-division involvement in question.

Richard Dean, whose United Autosports squad is retaining its two-car LMP2 effort in 2023, told Sportscar365 that the growth of Hypercar is naturally leading to anticipation for changes in the ORECA-dominated category.

“If you’re involved in the sport as closely as we are in LMP2, you can’t help but ask a lot of questions about what’s coming and what the future is,” he said.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that there’s a lot of cars to fit onto the grid in the WEC and potentially that might have a knock-on effect on ELMS.

“It’s a nice problem for the promoter that they’re going to potentially have more cars.

“Everybody is intrigued to know what the decisions are around it. They’re not easy decisions to make, but I’m not sure we’re sat waiting for too much clarity.”

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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