2018 Calendars: FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship)

2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship

FIA_WEC_logo   24_le_mans_logo_detail

The FIA’s global sports car championship featuring the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a series of 6 hour races in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Although Le Mans is a WEC round, the race attracts many non-championship cars from series such as the IMSA Weathertech Championship, the European Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series. These teams race for the win against the WEC teams but are ‘invisible’ when counting up WEC points.

This season marks the transition to a winter start with the finale being Le Mans itself. To get there they have created the one-off “Super Season”, more details below.

Google/iCal Calendar links:   ICAL  -or-  HTML

For more championships click here.

*As at 23 January 2018*

2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship

Date Race Track Location
2018
5 May 6 Hours of Spa Spa-Franchorchamps Francorchamps, Belgium
16-17 Jun 24 Heures du Mans 2018 Circuit de la Sarthe Le Mans, France
19 Aug 6 Hours of Silverstone Silverstone Silverstone, UK
21 Oct 6 Hours of Fuji Fuji Speedway Gotenba, Japan
18 Nov 6 Hours of Shanghai Shanghai International Circuit Shanghai, China
2019
16-17 Mar 1500 Miles of Sebring Sebring International Raceway Sebring, Florida, USA
5 May 6 Hours of Spa Spa-Franchorchamps Francorchamps, Belgium
15-16 Jun 24 Heures du Mans 2019 Circuit de la Sarthe Le Mans, France

What’s Changed?

In:

  • Transition to a winter/spring schedule via a one-off Superseason.
  • 1500 Miles of Sebring
  • Privateer LMP1 including Ginetta and ORECA.

Out:

  • 6 Hour races at Bahrain, Austin, Nurburgring.
  • Porsche LMP1.

The idea is that from 2019 the season will begin at Silverstone as usual, but now the opener will be in August. It then travels Asia in October/November (as it does now), the the USA in March, then to Europe in May for Spa and the new season finale, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It all builds to the big finish. I love this idea. The season is already centred around Le Mans, after the big double-points race the season is effectively over anyway. Toyota lost a lot of points at Le Mans but went on to win most of the rest of the season’s races, yet did not lift the title. Surely it is better to crown the WEC champion at Le Mans?

I hope it doesn’t detract from the LM race winners, though.

How to get there?

Of course, that’s in 2019. What do you do in the meantime? The “Super Season” is the WEC’s answer. This is where it slightly falls down – it takes a long time and may be very expensive. You may have already spotted there are two Le Mans 24 Hour races in that period!

The Super Season starts at Spa in May 2018, then Le Mans 24H, followed by Silverstone in its’ new August home. Fuji and Shanghai keep their autumn dates. There’s a winter break before a new event:  1500 Miles of Sebring in March 2019. Then a return to Spa in May and another Le Mans 24H follows it to complete the Super Season.

The 2019/20 season will begin at Silverstone two or three months after that.

On the surface this seems fine. It would almost make more sense though to run 2018 as a standard season, just run Le Mans as a standalone in 2019, before starting up again at Silverstone in August?

Instead we have a very long season. And a new event, the 1500 Miles of Sebring. This may still be a working title, the details to be worked on later – we have over a year yet. It’ll be an interesting weekend. The IMSA Weathertech Championship will hold the traditional Mobil 1 Twelve Hours on the Saturday. That’ll finish at about 10:30pm local time. The WEC race, they say, will start about two hours later and run until lunchtime Sunday. It sounds like madness! I am sure the Sebring faithful are diehard enough to stay up for it, but what about everyone else?

The other thing is the distance of the race. It seems an odd choice, until you look at the record distance of 1416 miles set with a Audi R15 TDI in the ALMS race of 2009. With the bumps of Sebring and the possibly flaky reliability of the hybrid Toyotas, this 1500 Mile race could last 13 or 14 hours! The distance is purposely designed to be a longer race than the historic 12 Hours.

The best equivalent I can think of: it’s a bit like Formula 1 holding a 4 Hour race straight after the Indy 500. It’s bizarre.

I can also see problems with the winter schedule for teams wanting to step up to the WEC, or step down to ELMS or wherever. The calendars just don’t line-up with the rest of sports car racing. Is a team going to have to do a part-season in WEC?

On a personal note, I love the Silverstone date change. I attended the race from 2009 onwards, back when it was the Silverstone 1000km held every September – one of those was held in August and it was warm and welcoming. Decidedly not the conditions in chilly wet April!

Cars

It is all change in LMP1 as well. Porsche have left, leaving just Toyota to field hybrid cars.

Thankfully there is an influx of privateer LMP1 non-hybrid entries which, as of January 2018, promise to be competitive. We wait and see! But even if they are not, it’ll be fun to watch them fight amongst themselves.

Rebellion Racing step back up with ORECA. Manor WEC move up with their Ginetta-Mechachrome. Other teams with Ginettas are promised (possibly with other engines). The ByKolles team will return with the CLM. The promising SMP Dallara/BR project should also be interesting to watch, given how fast the BR01 LMP2 car was.

LMP1 is not dead!

Regional Series

There are other series running with cars which are eligible for Le Mans and the WEC should the competitors choose (and the organisers agree). The European and Asian LM Series are directly related to the WEC as regional feeders.

  • IMSA Weathertech
  • European Le Mans Series
  • Asian Le Mans Series

See the main Calendar page for links to each of these.

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