The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) has announced today that 2010 will be the first year for a new competition called the International Cup that will be comprised of three races from the various Le Mans series across the world.
The first year will see three races act as the cup decider with three more being added in 2011. Thus far, Silverstone, Petit Le Mans, and a TBD race from the Asian Le Mans series are on tap. What makes this news even better is the news that Audi has committed to this challenge and will run evolution versions of its R15 challenger.
This year’s competition will act as a foundation for the ACO as they pursue a world championship. The series will expand to six races in 2011 and the ACO does plan to release more details on the situation in March. Along with completing all three races in the cup to be eligible, the LMP1 teams must also compete in five Le Mans sanctioned races. Audi is currently at four as they have yet to confirm spots in the 12 Hours of Sebring race. Joining Audi Sport thus far is the Audi Sport Team Joest R15 “plus”.
All in all this is an awesome idea. Le Mans and sports car racing have been hit hardest from the economic troubles seen recently. This world championship would highlight and bring much needed attention to all Le Mans series across the globe. This is especially good news for the young Asian Le Mans series as they start their championship. Who should be worried about this news? Formula 1 should be on high alert after this announcement for a number of reasons. Once thought to be the pinnacle of modern motorsport, F1 and the FIA have done all they can to take the engineering aspect out of the sport. Conversely the Le Mans series continues to push the envelope in research and technology, as well as road car relevance. A LMP1 world championship in a few years time could gain more manufacturers and thrust sports car racing to the pinnacle of modern motorsports. Needless to say, this is very welcoming news.