WEC cancels Sebring opener, Portimao named as replacement

The season will now kick off with an eight-hour race on the Portuguese circuit close to Portimao on April 4 slightly than starting on March 19 with the Sebring 1000 Miles on the invoice of the 12-hour spherical of the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The choice to shift the collection opener, at which the brand new breed of Le Mans Hypercars will come on stream, was introduced on Friday morning after mounting hypothesis over the viability of going to the USA whereas the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate.

“As a result of fast evolution of coronavirus, in addition to varied altering directives from governments in several international locations together with journey restrictions, the WEC didn’t wish to take any pointless dangers,” learn a press release from the collection organiser.

“With freight attributable to be despatched to the USA imminently, a call wanted to be made early to assist groups put together for the 2021 season.”

The assertion defined that the choice has been made in session with IMSA, the Sebring Worldwide Raceway and the FIA.

The official pre-season check will happen one week forward of the race on the Algarve circuit on March 30/31.

The WEC has pressured its intention for the rest of the WEC to run as scheduled, with the collection persevering with at Spa firstly of Could after which the Le Mans 24 Hours in its conventional mid-June slot.

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Pierre Fillon, president of WEC promoter the Car Membership de l’Ouest, stated: “We’re saddened to not see our American buddies and might’t anticipate the day once we can return to the USA to race alongside IMSA for SuperSebring.

“We stay centered on persevering with to construct our long-term relationship with each IMSA and the Sebring Worldwide Raceway, and the intention can be to return to Sebring sooner or later.”

New WEC boss Frederic Lequien, who was introduced as Gerard Neveu’s successor earlier this month, added: “Over the previous few months we have now seen that the pandemic is extraordinarily unpredictable and after a number of discussions with key events, the choice was made for the start of the season to stay in Europe the place most of our groups are primarily based.

“The implications of a last-minute cancellation would have financial implications for your complete WEC household, so we took a accountable resolution.”

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The choice implies that the brand new Glickenhaus LMH contender could possibly be on the grid for the primary spherical of the championship.

The US area of interest producer had determined to not journey to the USA and skip Sebring with a view to concentrate on testing the brand new Glickenhaus-Pipo 007LMH in Europe.

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However group proprietor Jim Glickenhaus acknowledged earlier this month that his squad will have the ability to be a part of the grid from the get-go ought to the collection opener be shifted to Europe.

One other consequence of the revised calendar is that Toyota drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima will miss the opening Tremendous System spherical in Japan scheduled for Fuji on the identical weekend because the Algarve WEC race.

Kobayashi and Nakajima are respectively driving for the KCMG and TOM’S squads in Tremendous System.

It’s the second time that the Sebring 1000 Miles, which passed off for the primary time in 2019, has dropped off the WEC calendar.

Final yr, the WEC spherical was cancelled simply over per week forward of the race because the pandemic took maintain.

Will probably be the primary time that the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve has hosted a WEC spherical, though it has beforehand held European Le Mans Sequence and the FIA GT1 World Championship races.

The monitor additionally stepped in to run a spherical of the System 1 world championship final October.

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