The FIA and the ACO, organizers of the 24 Hours at Le Mans and the Intercontinental Le Mans Championship (ILMC) have announced a World Endurance Championship starting in 2012. There will be a manufacturer’s championship and driver championship.
The FIA press release stated “In establishing this new category of motorsport championship, both the FIA and ACO are keenly aware it needs to be a laboratory for innovation and the development of new technologies, allowing motor manufacturers to express, through the rigours of competition, their ability to be inventive and, as this is an endurance championship, to also highlight their capacity to produce high quality and safe machines and components.”
The new World Endurance Championship series will replace the existing ILMC in 2012. An event calendar has yet to be released, but it will likely be similar to the 2011 ILMC season, with the Le Mans race the highlight of the series. FIA President Jean Todt said “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.” At the invitation of ACO President Jean-Claude Plassart, Todt will waive the starter’s flag for the 24 Hours Le Mans, Saturday, June 11.
Further details concerning the new championship will be outlined by Mr. Todt and Mr. Plassart at a press conference to be held at 10.00 on June 9 at the Musée des 24 Heures du Mans. It will likely be several months before a finalized schedule is released and North American sports car fans know if both Sebring and Petit Le Mans are on the schedule. The latter race was absent from the initial 2011 ILMC schedule and since this announcement rumors have swirled that there may only be room for one North American event which would likely be the Sebring 12 Hours.
Openpaddock.net will update the story as more information becomes available.