FIA World Endurance Championship boss Gerard Neveu does not feel an immediate threat of losing Circuit of The Americas from its 2016 schedule, despite an ongoing financial crisis with the Texas facility that has put next year’s Formula One race in jeopardy.
Neveu confirmed its nine-round calendar, as announced in September, will be presented to the FIA World Council for approval next week.
“We have plans to go to Austin,” Neveu said. “It’s on the calendar. This is correct to say that it looks like they’re in a very difficult situation. I’ve had some exchange with [COTA Chairman] Bobby Epstein… and we have a meeting very soon together in December.”
Reports have surfaced in recent weeks that the state’s contribution to support the F1 race has dropped from $25 million to $19.5 million annually prior to this year’s rain-affected event, with Bernie Ecclestone admitting it could lead to the cancelation of the F1 race.
It’s understood no F1 race could result in bankruptcy for COTA, casting questions over the future of the other events held at the sprawling $300 million circuit.
Neveu, however, has remained more upbeat on the future of its joint Lone Star Le Mans event with IMSA, which currently stands the only viable option for WEC in America.
“This is on the calendar right now,” he said. “All of the other events [at COTA] are on the calendar. The American people are not reacting like this.
“This is impossible for them that they would immediately stop all activities and destroy a facility like this. They have to find solutions to save money but not stop the activities.
“But if you consider today what’s happened, if you have to find another place to do the race correctly [in America], it’s difficult.”
Alternative options are limited in the U.S., with WEC having been in previous talks with Indianapolis Motor Speedway — the only other FIA Grade 1 circuit in the country — although Neveu said the circuit layout and grandstand capacity would not be ideally suited for endurance racing.
He admitted his personal attraction to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but like many other American tracks, it lacks the infrastructure needed to host a World Championship sports car racing event.
“Austin is the place to be in America,” Neveu said. “On one hand we lost public compared to any other place we were visiting before. But on the other hand, we enjoy great facilities, a perfect circuit the drivers love.
“The fact is that we have to anticipate and be ready when there is a problem like this… To imagine we’re not racing in North America does not make sense because we have to go there, especially with Ford being back.
“But not if we don’t have the right condition. And we’re not just speaking about money. We’re speaking about the right condition.
“If for any reason Austin decides to stop the activities… but I don’t believe this is the case.”
For the first time, the WEC calendar is poised to see a North American double-header, with a new round in Mexico City scheduled for Sept. 2-4, two weeks prior to COTA.
It’s understood the contract for the event at the newly revised Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit was signed this past weekend.