Future Unclear for Austin WEC/TUSC Event
The future of the shared sports car weekend at Circuit of The Americas is unclear, as the FIA World Endurance Championship has proposed changes to the event’s timetable before confirming its U.S. event for next year.
Series boss Gerard Neveu revealed that discussions are underway between IMSA and COTA regarding the organization of the weekend.
This year’s inaugural double-header in September featured a two-hour and 45-minute American Le Mans Series race on Saturday afternoon, with the six-hour WEC round the following morning.
Neveu has proposed for next year’s WEC race to be held on Saturday afternoon, as a race into the night, with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship potentially running earlier in the day.
“We are discussing but it’s not so easy,” Neveu said. “When you do a partnership you have to make compromises and make sure everyone is happy. If it’s not the case, you take your own decision.
“But clearly the position of the ACO is to protect the WEC, it’s not to promote another series. In all spirits, when we wanted to do a joint venture, it was to make sure it was a successful event for both parties during the weekend.
“This is not the feeling after Austin. This is not the feeling that the paddock had in Austin. This is not the feeling and the feedback we received from our partners and from the FIA.”
While the ALMS/WEC weekend at COTA drew nearly 35,000 spectators, less than 8,000 were reportedly in attendance for the WEC event on Sunday. Neveu admitted it will probably be the lowest race-day attendance for a WEC event this year.
The series’ most recent race in Shanghai saw 28,000 fans, which has traditionally been one of the most challenging markets to attract spectators.
“This year we saw there was some dysfunction between Saturday and Sunday, between the balance and the two events and we are trying to work closely with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and COTA to try to find a solution,” Neveu said.
“If we don’t find a solution, we will change the date or modify the calendar. We are still discussing right now. You have to make sure that we can organize a fair weekend for everybody and to guarantee the right conditions.
“We really believe that to do the race on Sunday, when at the same time, all of the [ALMS] paddock is [packing up]. This is not correct. This is not very [professional].
“Just look at the media center. There were 250 journalists and more than 60 or 70 percent were provided by WEC. We have to consider these facts.
“There is no doubt that we will go to the United States. But we will go [to COTA] on the right conditions.”
Neveu said the series has not yet considered an alternative to COTA for it’s U.S. round next year but insisted they will not have a repeat of the 2013 event.
It’s understood an option could be to have a standalone race away from the TUDOR Championship if their conditions are not met.
“The only thing we have observed is that this year in Austin, at the end of the weekend, it was not a good result for WEC and it was not corresponding to the level of the result that expected all around the world,” he said.
“So we have to make some corrections and to make sure that next year will be a better result. If we do exactly the same, we don’t see any reason that it won’t be another disappointment.
“We sincerely hope [for] a common weekend together in Austin but with the guarantee that WEC will find the right place.” Sportscar365.com