World sportscar racing is set to undergo dramatic change following the ACO's recently forged alliance with the FIA. - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / Geoffroy Barre
Having finalised 2012 plans for the various championships under its administration, the FIA today revealed details of a new partnership with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organisers of the Le Mans 24 Hour, and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, during a council meeting in Barcelona.
Under the recently revealed plans, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will commence operation under the FIA banner, assuming the name and role of ‘FIA World Endurance Series’ as of 2012. The ACO will continue to operate as the administrative and regulatory body for the championship.
Unlike the current ILMC, the new series will award World Endurance Championship titles to both constructors and drivers, within each category.
Despite regulatory changes in other sportscar categories under the FIA’s jurisdiction, the new World Endurance Championship is expected to maintain its current class structure (i.e. LMP, GTE etc), and remain a standalone series.
The WEC will consist of at least six events, including the Le Mans 24 Hour. It remains unclear as to how the involvement of both Le Mans Series, and American Le Mans Series events will be affected.
The official release (found here) also details plans for revisions to the current FIA GT1 World championship. With plans indicating the current series will continue operation under the title ‘World GT Championship’, and allow entry to a greater array of GT machinery.
As of 2012, the revised ‘World GT Championship’ will accept 2011 GT3, and 2009 GT2 chassis, in addition to current GT1 vehicles. The series will continue to operate under the sprint format.
It should be noted that, despite both operating under the FIA banner (and allowing entry to LM-GTE eligible vehicles), the ‘World Endurance Championship’ and ‘World GT Championship’ will continue to operate as separate entities, and standalone series.
FIA President, Jean Todt:
“I am delighted to welcome the return of the FIA Endurance World Championship, especially with a promoter like ACO. I am also very pleased to have a legendary race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of it.”
ACO President, Jean-Claude Plassart:
“I am very happy we have reached this agreement with the FIA, a partnership which underlines the rightful place that endurance racing has in motorsport, something we have been promoting since we first established the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1923.
Jean Todt has accepted my invitation to start this year’s 24 Hours race on Saturday June 11, a symbolic and visible way to celebrate our partnership.”