The FIA World Endurance Championship will run races without spectators if needed in order to complete its 2019-20 season, according to series boss Gerard Neveu.
The globe-trotting series, which has been impacted by multiple calendar revisions this season, is aiming to fulfill a full eight-round championship with the Total 6 Hours of Spa provisionally scheduled for Aug. 15, followed by the rescheduled 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sept. 19-20 and the new season finale in Bahrain on Nov. 21.
With Belgian authorities banning all mass events until the end of August, the Spa events for both the WEC and European Le Mans Series had come under question although a statement from the series last week indicted that plans were still ongoing for the race.
Neveu has now since confirmed to Endurance-Info, in a fan Q&A, that both championships are prepared to race behind closed doors should restrictions remain in place.
“At the moment it’s too early to say we have considered all possibilities, especially for the races to be held in the first part of the return to the track,” Neveu told Endurance-Info.
“If we have to run behind closed doors this summer, in the WEC as well as in ELMS, we will do it.
“We believe that we should use every opportunity available to us to ensure that our teams can race this summer as long as the safety of participants is guaranteed.”
The ELMS released a revised provisional five-round calendar earlier this month with races currently scheduled for Paul Ricard (July 19), Spa (Aug. 9) and Barcelona (Aug. 29) in the summer months.
Le Mans, which is under the control of the ACO, has yet to make any declarations of a possible closed-door event.
Neveu stressed that plans can still change depending on the outcome of government restrictions, which are beginning to be eased in some European countries as fewer cases of the COVID-19 virus are being confirmed.
“Right now, we need to be very humble,” he said. “We are waiting, as people are everywhere, to find out more details about the deconfinement exit strategy and only then will we know exactly how we will run our events this summer.
“The most important elements are of course that everyone remains safe and healthy and at home.”
Paddock/Pit Lane Restrictions Rule Out Joint WEC-ELMS Spa Event
Neveu said a joint WEC/ELMS event at Spa is not possible due to the size of the pit boxes in the endurance pit lane, which ELMS would be forced to utilize in a combined weekend with the WEC.
Instead the two events are provisionally scheduled on back-to-back weekends, also in a strategic move should the races go behind closed doors.
Questions arose why the two series would not run together, similar to previous years at Silverstone, which also features two pit lanes.
“We obviously studied this possibility with the team at the Circuit de Spa but, given the characteristics of the circuit, this proposition wasn’t possible,” Neveu explained.
“Logistically it’s impossible to run these two events over the same weekend because the paddock areas and, above all, the endurance pit lane (the old pits and pit buildings) are too small to accommodate the ELMS’ LMP2 and LMP3 cars.
“However, they will run on back-to-back weekends so that competitors and partners who are involved in the two championships can consolidate their resources for the two separate races.
“The final point is that to combine these two very important paddocks would be difficult to reconcile in the event of a race behind closed doors.”
David Bristol contributed to this report