By IMSA Wire Service
Daytona Beach, Fla. – Following an extremely productive and positive meeting held on March 18 between IMSA, the FIA World Endurance Championship and Sebring International Raceway organizations, some key changes have been jointly agreed for the 2019 race weekend.
Presented by IMSA and the WEC, the March 13-16 event will feature more racing, more cars and a heightened experience for fans with the WEC’s sixth round of its Super Season now becoming the 1000 Miles of Sebring (or 8 hours, whichever comes first) and taking place on Friday, March 15 starting in the afternoon and finishing at night.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will retain its traditional place as the final race on the schedule, the culmination of a truly great weekend of racing for all.
The WEC will make use of a separate, newly installed pitlane adjacent to the Ulmann Straight thereby allowing a smoother, faster transition between on track sessions for the different championships. The revised schedule will be more comfortable for spectators, corner workers, media, teams and commercial partners, and will provide even more entertainment for the fans. The WEC paddock will run concurrently to the IMSA paddock – which remains in its usual location – towards Turn 16 and, as at all WEC races, will be open to fans.
As this will be a first visit to the notoriously challenging 3.74-mile (6.01 km) track for many of the WEC’s 36 full-season entrants to the Super Season, there will be an official WEC test day held in the run up to the race weekend. A full schedule with more details will be released in due course. This will be the only time that the LMP1 prototypes, including the two hybrid-powered Toyotas, will race on North American soil in 2019 and the anticipation in the WEC paddock has already started to build.
Scott Atherton, President of IMSA commented: “The decisions that came from our discussions with the WEC, FIA and track management promise to make the 2019 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts weekend an absolute must for sports car racing fans from across North America and around the world.
“There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the initial announcement of this combined event, but we always believed we could all find solutions to the many questions and challenges that needed to be addressed to host two world-class events on one weekend. And that’s exactly what we did. In the weeks and months ahead, we know this spirit of cooperation will continue as we complete the process of planning what promises to be an unprecedented showcase of sports car endurance racing for the fans – and competitors in each championship.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “I am delighted to see that Scott and Gérard, together with their respective teams from the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and the WEC, have been able to find very good solutions to the many challenges associated with staging this event. We will take a great deal of satisfaction in being part of this premier racing weekend in the USA next March 2019.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship said after the meeting, “Everyone went in to the meeting with a willingness to find a solution which worked well for all of us, knowing that some flexibility would be required on both sides, and the key points such as the schedule and the pitlane and paddock were agreed very quickly.
“We would like to sincerely thank Scott Atherton and all his team at IMSA, Wayne Estes and his staff at Sebring Raceway for the co-operation, flexibility and positive attitude they displayed throughout the recent weekend. We received a very warm welcome, had many meetings while in Florida, and a lot of the logistical bumps have already been smoothed out ready for the WEC’s visit next year.”
Wayne Estes, General Manager Sebring International Raceway added: “From the beginning, we knew things would be adjusted to make this work for the teams, for the fans, and for the integrity of the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of work and cooperation among all parties to produce the best possible event for the world’s sports car racing enthusiasts.”