Automobile Club de l’Ouest has announced changes to the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup schedules.
The FIA WEC season has been on pause since 23 February, where they raced the fifth round of the 2019/20 season. The season will be restarted on Saturday 15 August at Spa Francorchamps, with a 6-hour race, originally planned for the end of April.
It was announced a few weeks back, that the 24 Hours of Le Mans would be moved to 19-20 September, and that will start at 14.30 CET.
While the Le Mans race should have been the finale to the 2019/20 season, there has been added another race POST the French classic. Saturday 21 November will be the season finale at the 8 Hours of Bahrain. That puts Bahrain onto the 2019/20 schedule twice.
The changes will also result in the FIA WEC 2020/21 season being postponed until March 2021. The season was named Season 9 anyway, so the mention of 2020/21 will no longer be present. ACO didn’t officially say if this is the end to the winter season, which was a switch that was made for the 2018/19 season, which lasted one and a half years, before the 2019/20 was the first to last 9 months. It resulted in various difficulties for some of the teams, where sponsoring deals traditionally runs from January until December, plus some drivers’ deals will run for the same period of time. That was a thing we saw at the Jackie Chan DC Racing team, which suddenly lost “Team Malaysia” halfway through the 2018/19 season, since their main sponsor only had signed a deal in 31 December 2018.
The ELMS season will looks drastically different than originally intended.
The season will start on 13-14 July, where the teams will test for two days at Paul Ricard in the south of France. The first race of the season will be run later that week.
The teams will be in action again three weeks later at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, which is the weekend prior to the FIA WEC visiting the same venue. Another three weeks later see will be a Saturday race at Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, which should had been the opening round of the season.
September is cleaned out for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which a lot of ELMS teams will participate at.
Round 4 of the ELMS season will run on 11. October at Monza, which originally should had been Round 2. The season will end at Portimao on 1 November, which is one week later than planned.
The changes is also reflected in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which will follow the ELMS throughout the full season, plus their Road To Le Mans race at Le Mans during the September race week.
ACO did however point out, that there might be further changes, if the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t got under control, but they hope that the new schedules are able to be completed, so the teams will be able to do some races, and therefore get money from their sponsors.
FIA WEC schedule:
TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 15 August
24 Hours of Le Mans 19-20 September
8 Hours of Bahrain 21 November
OFFICIAL TESTS 13-14 July ELMS – 15 July LMC
4 HOURS OF LE CASTELLET 19 July
4 HOURS OF SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS 9 August
4 HOURS OF BARCELONA 29 August
ROAD TO LE MANS 17-19 September (Only LMC)
4 HOURS OF MONZA 11 October
4 HOURS OF PORTIMAO 1 November