Sebring 2019 WEC, IMSA schedule tweaked

April 4, 2018

Sebring 2019 WEC, IMSA schedule tweaked

April 4, 2018

The 2019 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race weekend, March 13-16, will feature an adjusted race schedule for the FIA World Endurance Championship, compared to original plans.

The FIA WEC’s race – which will be 1,000 miles or eight hours, whichever comes first – has been shifted from Sunday after the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race to the Friday before the IMSA race. A full schedule will get revealed at a later date.

Both IMSA and the FIA WEC announced the revised schedule on Wednesday, along with a couple of other noteworthy items.

Rather than use the primary pit lane, which comes off Sebring International Raceway’s Turn 17 and exits at Turn 1, the FIA WEC will use a separate, newly installed pit lane adjacent to the Ulmann Straight. This should allow a smoother, faster transition between on track sessions for the different championships.

Additionally, the WEC paddock will run concurrently to the IMSA paddock – which remains in its usual location – towards Turn 16 and, as at all WEC races, will be open to fans. Sebring will host an official test day for the FIA WEC competitors.

The FIA WEC’s current incarnation premiered at Sebring in 2012, in what was a race run within the 12-hour race. However, the FIA WEC and IMSA (then American Le Mans Series) classes and results were outlined separately.

The change for 2019 comes out of meetings held among IMSA, FIA WEC and Sebring officials the Sunday after this year’s 12-hour race, March 18, 2018. The 2019 FIA WEC race was originally scheduled to start just a couple hours after the 12-hour race concluded.

“There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the initial announcement of this combined event, but we always believed we could all find solutions to the many questions and challenges that needed to be addressed to host two world-class events on one weekend,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton.

“And that’s exactly what we did. In the weeks and months ahead, we know this spirit of cooperation will continue as we complete the process of planning what promises to be an unprecedented showcase of sports car endurance racing for the fans – and competitors in each championship.”

FIA WEC OFFICIAL NOTES

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (right), said: “I am delighted to see that Scott and Gérard, together with their respective teams from the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and the WEC, have been able to find very good solutions to the many challenges associated with staging this event. We will take a great deal of satisfaction in being part of this premier racing weekend in the USA next March 2019.”

Gérard Neveu, WEC CEO added, “Everyone went in to the meeting with a willingness to find a solution which worked well for all of us, knowing that some flexibility would be required on both sides, and the key points such as the schedule and the pitlane and paddock were agreed very quickly.

“We would like to sincerely thank Scott Atherton and all his team at IMSA, Wayne Estes and his staff at Sebring Raceway for the co-operation, flexibility and positive attitude they displayed throughout the recent weekend. We received a very warm welcome, had many meetings while in Florida, and a lot of the logistical bumps have already been smoothed out ready for the WEC’s visit next year.”

SEBRING HAPPY WITH CHANGES

Estes, Sebring’s track president, said: “From the beginning, we knew things would be adjusted to make this work for the teams, for the fans, and for the integrity of the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of work and cooperation among all parties to produce the best possible event for the world’s sports car racing enthusiasts.”

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