Pierre Fillon, president of championship promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, has insisted that it is far from certain the WEC will continue to join the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Sebring in March beyond the end of its current five-season deal with the Florida venue this year.
His comments follow those of WEC series boss Frederic Lequien in December that he was not looking beyond the Sebring 1000 Miles for the US round of the championship.
He said he did not “want to discuss other options” on the announcement last month that the Lusail circuit in Qatar would replace Sebring as the WEC series opener from 2024.
Lequien suggested that it would still be feasible for the WEC round to run on the Friday before IMSA’s traditional mid-March Sebring 12 Hours fixture even with Qatar opening the season.
He insisted that a three-week gap between the two races, meaning the Qatar event would have to take place in late February, would be workable.
At a joint ACO/IMSA press conference at the Daytona 24 Hours on Friday, Fillon said that the two organisations will continue to collaborate on a WEC round in the US beyond this year and the end of their current deal to join up for what is dubbed the SuperSebring weekend.
“I can say today that our partnership will continue and we will continue to have an American event,” he explained.
“But it is too early to answer the question [where it will be].
“The idea is to continue an event with IMSA, but we are thinking about how we can do that. We have to re-think how we can build a double event, is it Sebring?”
#9 Prema Orlen Team Oreca 07 – Gibson: Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz, Lorenzo Colombo
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He highlighted a number of issues standing in the way of the continuation of the Sebring double-header, including those faced by the manufacturers competing in both the WEC round on Friday and the IMSA race on the Saturday.
He hinted that clashes of sponsorship between the two events were also be an obstacle.
IMSA boss John Doonan said that there were a “a big list of factors” to be sorted out before the venue for the US WEC round from 2024 could be announced.
Other options for the WEC round in the USA would appear to include the Indianapolis road course, which will this year will return to the IMSA schedule with a race in September.
Track boss Roger Penske has outlined a desire to host a major endurance event at the former home of the US Grand Prix.
A race at Road Atlanta one week ahead of the Petit Le Mans 1000-mile IMSA curtain-closer has also been rumoured.
Doonan said IMSA would “welcome any discussions about that”, while denying that the track in Georgia owned by IMSA was already in the mix.
The initial deal for Sebring to host the 1000 Miles began in in 2019. The race was subsequently cancelled in both 2020 and ’21 as a result of the international travel restrictions arising from COVID-19.
The fixture returned for its second running in 2022, year four of the contract, and will open this year’s WEC on 17 March.