The first of our Defining 2018 series takes a look at the unique WEC season. On September 1st, 2017, the FIA World Endurance Championship announced a revolutionary new calendar for the series. Two Le Mans, and the addition of Sebring made the 2018/19 unmissable to any motorsports fanatic.
The SuperSeason calendar is a spectacle, if somewhat of an anomaly.
|April 6-7||Paul Ricard (Prologue)|
|June 16-17||Le Mans|
|June 15-16||Le Mans|
The WEC has struggled with the headline event, the Le Mans 24h, falling in the middle of the calendar as after the June endurance classic, crowd numbers drop as the series moves to fly away races in Asia.
It was decided that the calendar be adjusted to make Le Mans the final event of the season, adding more emphasis on the race, and turning the WEC into a ‘winter’ series. In order to do this, however, the season must run through one year, and then on to Le Mans.
This 50% added season was immediately a hit amongst fans, and with teams.
The SuperSeason got underway at the Spa 6hr on May 5th 2018, an event that would feature twice in the elongated calendar.
Toyota, now the only hybrid-LMP1 team, finished 1-2 in the opening round, with debutant Fernando Alonso winning his first race in the #8 TS050 Hybrid.
Questions were asked of the P1 class before and after the race, with the non-hybrid teams unable to match the pace of Toyota. The opening round suggested that the only way the privateer teams would win a round was if Toyota self-destructed.
The remaining three classes displayed why the WEC would be a fantastic spectacle from start to finish.
G-Drive took a strong win in LMP2, with the Ford #66 battling hard to beat both works Porsche’s in GTE Pro.
BMW finished fifth in its debut race, as Aston Martin triumphed in GTE Am after battling to the finish line.
The SuperSeason is a big effort by WEC to secure fanbase throughout the season, and make the series globally popular.
The series work hard to maintain the rounds popular to the fans, races with heritage, whilst aiming to bring in new events to reach a wider audience.
Bringing Sebring in to the mix for March 2019 is a fantastic step in opening up the WEC to the North American audience, after dropping the Lone Star Le Mans event at the Circuit of The Americas.
The home of the iconic Sebring 12hr hosted the WEC paddock in 2012, and has been a favourite for a return date.
WEC has found itself taking a step forwards, and into the spotlight.
Fernando Alonso, and the celebrity image he holds, has alone brought new fans to the sport, but he alone has not developed the strong response to the SuperSeason.
With three rounds left of the WEC SuperSeason (Sebring, Spa, Le Mans), the changing format of 2018/19 has certainly defined, and redefined, the series. The WEC has ballooned in popularity, bringing this golden-age of endurance racing to the world stage in 2018.
Header Image: Automoto.it