Rejoice, WEC is Returning to Sebring

In 2019, the WEC will run its own 12 Hours Of Sebring back-to-back with IMSA's 12-hour classic.

Le Mans 24 Hour Race
Gerlach Delissen - Corbis—Corbis via Getty Images

In 2019, there will be two 12 Hours of Sebring. There will be IMSA's 12 Hours of Sebring which will run from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm on Saturday. Then, just hours after the IMSA race is over, WEC's 12-Hours of Sebring will begin at midnight, ending at 12:00 pm Sunday. This comes as WEC enters a transition period and completely reworks the series' calendar. While we still won't get to see the IMSA DPI machines go head-to-head with the WEC's LMP1 cars, these two 12-hour races in the span of 26-hours will make for one of the most exciting days of racing fans have ever seen. 

With Audi and Porsche having both pulled out of the WEC, the series has been working hard to keep the WEC alive and affordable for the GT classes and remaining prototype teams. The goal is to keep the cost below the current levels in hopes that new manufacturers or privateer teams will be enticed to join.

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, said in a press release from the WEC: "With the support of the WEC’s friends and partners at IMSA, agreement has been reached to return to Sebring with the 12 Hours of Sebring in the WEC calendar and we are really delighted about this. With all these decisions, we are confident of seeing a full and very competitive grid next season. We are already discussing with several manufacturers and privateer teams who are investigating very seriously entrance from 2018/2019 season in LMP1, taking into consideration that the LMP2 and GTE grids are already strong with a high level of commitment for the future.”

The new 2018-19 WEC season will now be an 18-month "Super Season" consisting of eight races and one 36-hour test to start the season off. The 2018 24 Hours Of Le Mans will take place as scheduled. The series will return to Le Mans for the season finale in 2019. Confused? Take a look at the provisional calendar.

•    April 5-6, 2018                      The Prologue (36-hour test), Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA)              
•    May 4-5, 2018                       WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
•    June 16-17, 2018                   24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)
•    October 13-14, 2018             6 Hours of Fuji (JPN)
•    November 3-4, 2018             6 Hours of Shanghai (CHN)
•    February 2019                       Place and event TBC
•    March 2019 15-16, 2019       12 Hours of Sebring (USA)
•    May 2019 3-4, 2019              WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
•    June 2019 15-16, 2019          24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)

Yes, Mexico and COTA are off the calendar. In an effort to keep costs down so the WEC can survive, cuts had to be made. Partnering with IMSA for a double header race at Sebring certainly helps keeps costs down while still holding a race in North America. The full details of this mega weekend of racing at Sebring are still being worked out. The provisional calendar is expected to be approved by FIA World Motor Sport Council shortly.  

With the addition of the WEC Sebring race, Florida will be in the spotlight of the racing world for the first three months of 2019. In January there will be the 24 Hours of Daytona. February will have theDaytona 500. In March, St. Petersburg will host the IndyCar season opener and Sebring will have the dual 12 Hours of Sebring races. For those of us (like this author) who live in Florida, we couldn't be happier.