The revised provisional calendar for the FIA WEC’s 2019/20 Season 8 has been published today with a number of important changes planned for this season, and for the planned season 9 calendar.
The current season is planned now to restart for the first time since CoTA’s race in February with the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday 15 August.
As previously announced by the ACO, the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours is now planned to be held on 19/20th September, though the start time for the race will change to 14:30 local time after consultation with partners – primarily TV, this to increase the amount of early running in full daylight.
Le Mans will not though be the WEC season finale as originally planned. Instead, the Championship will return to Bahrain for an 8-hour race on 21 November, replacing the cancelled 1000 Miles of Sebring.
That means that the Championship is planning to retain an eight race calendar, albeit with two races in Bahrain.
WEC To Return To Calendar Year Format From 2021
The other very significant news is that the calendar for Season 9 will not commence until at least March of 2021 (very likely at ‘Super Sebring’) and will be “comprehensively reworked”, with CEO Gerard Neveu confirming that the FIA WEC will switch back to a calendar year format from 2021 after just two seasons of the WEC operating across the winter.
The decision has also come in the wake of the likely economic impacts to come in the wake of the virus outbreak, giving predictable production and supply chain difficulties.
HyperCar delayed to 2021 season, LMDh to 2022
In addition, the decision takes account of the realities facing the proposed HyperCar programmes for Toyota, Glickenhaus and ByKolles, all of whom have been significantly impacted by the industrial shutdowns worldwide.
The Le Mans HyperCars will now debut in March 2021 with the introduction of the ‘converged’ LMDh prototypes now arriving in the FIA WEC in the 2022 season, the new cars then would now be set to see their competitive debut at the Rolex 24 Hours in 2022
That also means that the previously announced races at Silverstone, Monza, Fuji and Kyalami are, at best postponed – though the WEC is in contact and negotiation with all of the initially proposed venues about future possibilities.
All of the above comes, of course with a literal health warning that the provisional detail is subject to further change according to the evolution of the current health crisis, or because of the calendars of other FIA World Championships.
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the WEC: “The evolution of this global health crisis has left us with little choice. It is today impossible to consider organising an international motorsport event before the summer, so we have rearranged the calendar accordingly while keeping the same number of events on the schedule.
“However, we must be prepared for some big changes for next season because we will have to incorporate many parameters, starting with the inevitable economic difficulties that are to come.
“For the time being our overriding concern is for everyone’s good health, and we hope that everyone will take good care of themselves and their loved ones in the weeks to come.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “An exceptional decision for an exceptional situation. In the context of what we are all going through now, the reprogramming of the WEC’s Season 8 calendar required certain adjustments in concert with our different partners, competitors and host circuits. However, to ensure the quality and fairness of this championship, this year it is necessary to depart from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scheduled for 19/20th September, being the Super Finale of the 2019- 2020 FIA World Endurance Championship. This modification to the current FIA WEC has been established with full transparency and with the understanding of all concerned. Once again, the priority is to ensure the good performance of our championships by limiting as far as possible the effects of this crisis.
“Furthermore, the start of the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans will be at 14h30 (local time) on 19th September. This time has been decided upon with our partners, notably TV, and with our competitors.”
Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission: “Despite the extreme circumstances, it is our priority to protect the FIA World Endurance Championship season and all parties involved, including teams, drivers, partners, suppliers and fans. We did our utmost to guarantee that the current campaign will be comprised of eight rounds, ensuring equal terms for all competitors. Bearing in mind the economic implications of the crisis and their impact on the industry, delaying the start of the next season until 2021 is the right thing to do, giving competitors enough time to regroup ahead of the following campaign.”
2019/2020 FIA WEC Updated Provisional Calendar*
15 August 2020 – TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
19/20 September 2020 – 24 Hours of Le Mans
21 November 2020 – 8 Hours of Bahrain
* Due to COVID-19, this calendar may be subject to modification