2014 WEC calendar offers few surprises
Le Mans-winning No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro practices at Circuit of the Americas – Anne Proffit photo
There are very few surprises on the provisional World Endurance Championship (WEC) schedule for 2014. This year was the final run for LMP1 class eligibility in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring (only Audi and Rebellion came to play) and there will be a single appearance for the class in the United States next year – it will race with IMSA’s Tudor United Sportscar Challenge at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), just as it is doing this weekend in Austin, Texas with American Le Mans Series.
WEC will utilize the same eight circuits as this season; there is a single adjustment to the end of the season as Bahrain will take place two weeks earlier than in 2013, when it closes out the month of November.
The initial official test session at Paul Ricard takes place 28-29 March, followed by the first round on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit 18-20 April. As is customary, a visit to Spa Francorchamps follows the second weekend of May (9-10).
The official 24 Heures du Mans test is scheduled for the 1st of June and racing in that seminal contest is slated for 14-15 June of this year, a week earlier than in 2013.
The WEC takes a break after Le Mans and is hoping to be at Sao Paulo (yet to be confirmed) the final weekend of August, followed by the series’ second trip to COTA 19-21 September.
After these events, the circuit moves to the far east with Fuji’s round scheduled 10-12 October, Shanghai 31 October-1 November and Bahrain closes the year 13-15 November.
Gerard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC noted, “This calendar represents a further step to establishing the brand of the FIA World Endurance Championship in the countries that we visit.” He emphasized the importance of holding seven races outside the series’ most famous – Le Mans – to add stability to the calendar. “We want the fans to know when and where the FIA WEC will be bringing the Spirit of Le Mans to a circuit near them.”
Neveu also stressed the stability of the calendar for the teams, sponsors and other sponsors, allowing WEC “to be able to continue to build on the foundations that have been laid over the past two seasons.”
Also on hand for the announcement, ACO president Pierre Fillon reminded, “2014 will be a very interesting year with the launch of the new LMP1 regulations, and with the arrival of Porsche with their P1 challenge to rival the cars from Audi and Toyota.
“We also expect to see more cars in P2 and GTE as the championship continues to grow.” Fillon stressed the Automobile Club de l’Oest is “very happy with this calendar as it gives stability for the teams and partners in these difficult economic times.”
By Anne Proffit