With the dust now settled on the 2016 FIA WEC season, it’s a good time to look back and analyse what we’ve just seen. But one aspect which is all too often overlooked is what the fans in the stands and at home watching think of the World Endurance Championship, and what perhaps needs to be done, and could be done, to improve its current package.
Luckily, avid WEC fan and DSC reader Alex Sinclair set out to do just that in a professional manner, creating and producing a 2016 WEC fan survey which asked fans from across the world a variety of valid questions, to get an impression of what’s good, what’s not so good and what could do better in the World Endurance Championship going forward.
Sinclair’s survey, which spanned topics from its App and streaming service to its regulations, managed to attract 519 number of fans, from 53 countries, and therefore represents a really good sample of the WEC’s fanbase.
Here’s what he found out:
Endurance racing is becoming more and more popular
The first questions in the survey centred around the length of time the participants had been motorsport fans. 72 percent of the fans that took part had become an endurance racing fan in the last five years, interestingly since the WEC started.
Of that bunch, 71 percent of them had been a motorsport fan of more than 10 years, meaning a lot of motorsport fans have become attracted to endurance racing since the WEC era began back in 2012.
Some fans would be prepared to pay more for the app
The WEC app has been a talking point since it was released on an app store with its pay wall streaming service. Should it have been free? If not then how much is the WEC worth to fans?
The answer given to Sinclair was that it’s worth a lot, especially if tweaks and improvements to the service are made. While 41 percent of the participants hadn’t used the app, 59 percent said they used the product in some way in 2016, with 39 percent of those paying for the full annual subscription.
Price wise, the fans also believed that its €34.99 price was mostly fair, but what’s most interesting is that many would be prepared to pay a higher price, for many this my be the most surprising result of the survey.
The number one complaint about the WEC app and streaming service according to results is that the race replays are only available on the app and not via the website. Fans also expressed the desire to watch older WEC races and watch them in full too. Having live video for the Test Days before Le Mans and foreign language commentary were also notable popular suggestions.
So, if the app was perfect, and included every feature that each fan wished for, what would they be prepared to pay for it? 62 percent of the fans who said they didn’t pay for the app currently, said they would pay for it, and 32 percent of non-users even said they would pay more than its current price. A significant percentage would also be willing to pay up to twice the price of the current product with 17% declaring that they would pay up to €75 or more if the product was perfect.
Non-Le Mans rounds shouldn’t always be six hours
When asked about the calendar, there was a significant number of fans in the survey who thought that it would be a good idea to make the races outside of Le Mans varying lengths.
67 percent of people taking part in the survey stated that they watch the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship which includes a wide variety of race times.
Making Monza the Prologue venue was a good idea
While there isn’t a WEC race due at the ‘Temple of Speed’ just yet, at least fans have the chance to see WEC cars run at Monza in a public setting next year. When asked about which circuits should be added to the calendar, Monza was by far the most popular choice, with Suzuka, Interlagos, Watkins Glen and Montreal also featuring high up on the fans’ dream prospects.
It’s clear that historic old circuits are more popular among WEC fans, as earlier in the survey they were also asked about which races they liked, and which they didn’t on the current calendar only CoTA proved popular out of the modern circuits on the schedule.
A DPi-style LMP1 would prove unpopular
When asked about the possibility of LMP1 adopting a spec chassis which manufacturers can build around in the future as a cost-cutting measure, the response was profoundly negative.
More than half of all fans rated the idea “1” , the lowest possible score available and the average across the 516 participants came out at just 2.6. It’s clear that what LMP1 H has in its engineering and technological challenges are a real draw to the sport.
This was conducted before Audi’s departure was announce however.
The FIA and ACO are willing to take a look at this
Since completing the survey, the FIA’s Jean Todt has had this to say in response to Sinclair’s work:
“I acknowledge receipt of your email regarding the motor sport fan survey on the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“Let me congratulate you on the quality of the survey which provides an interesting picture of the current situation of the WEC from the fans point of view, and consistent action proposals for improvements.
“As you mentioned, the essence of motor sport is the fans, and their feedback is a major input for us.
“Please note that your survey has been taken into consideration on our side and will be shared with the FIA WEC Promoter in future discussions we will have regarding the WEC.”
You can see the full survey and its outcomes HERE >>