ILMC: Series poised to assume role of FIA World Endurance Championship

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

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.”

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Audi unveils R15 TDi Plus.

R15Plus_first_release

AudiSport's second revision of the R15 chassis, the R15+. - Image Courtesy Audi Motorsport.

Today Audi unveiled the changes made to it’s LMP1 chassis, formerly known as the R15.

The revised chassis design, bearing the designation R15+, is a response to late regulation changes made by the ACO in late November 2009 (following protests by both Peugeot & AMR), rendering the (at the time) aero-design ineligible to compete in future races.

The R15+ features a split-front nose design even more radical than the first iteration of the chassis. Due to regulation changes, the previous chassis’ flow-concept (emphasis on air flow through chassis) has been rendered much less effective. Sidewalls (previously in a partially open form) have now been closed, as a result of the design’s new focus.

Audi’s V10 TDi engine has been optimised for smaller restrictors and reduced supercharging pressure. The car’s headlight system also saw a comprehensive overhaul. With the chassis now utilising lighting components found within the R8 LMS production chassis.

Although Audi will be testing at Sebring following the 12H race, they will not compete. Instead the R15+ will turn it’s first competitive laps at the Paul Ricard circuit at the opening round of the 2010 LMS season.