The 2018/19 season of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be a transition to the new format and last 14 months. The season will start at Spa-Francorchamps in May 2018 and conclude at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2019. This new format now called the ‘Super Season’ will feature two visits to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2018 and June 2019 as well as two visits to Spa-Francorchamps, which is considered to be the traditional dress rehearsal for the big race in France the following month.
FIA World Endurance Championship 2018/19 Calendar
5 May 2018 WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps BEL
16/17 June 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans FRA
19 August 2018 6 Hours of Silverstone GBR
21 October 2018 6 Hours of Fuji JPN
18 November 2018 6 Hours of Shanghai CHN
16/17 March 2019 12 Hours of Sebring USA
4 May 2019 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps BEL
15/16 June 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans FRA
Here, the Prologue is the pre-season official trials of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). These trials were this year the South of France and the Castellet circuit (also called Paul Ricard), and the kick-off of the Super Season: the first time this year when all competitors meet on the track. All teams enjoyed 30 hours non-stop on the track – including the night – on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 April, to prepare the first race of the Super Season, the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May, and well sure the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Open for free to the public, this prologue was an opportunity to admire the new cars including the LMP1 prototypes that will have the heavy task of competing with the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, on which the Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso has committed to the season. Unfortunately for the fans, the Spanish, selected for the GP of Bahrain, was not present at Castellet. His first meeting with the Japanese firm is set in early May at the 6 Hours of Spa.
As usual, this championship will be comprising of four categories:
- LMP1 : Le Mans Prototypes can be either open or closed cockpit cars (in the FIA WEC they are all closed cockpit), producing especially for endurance racing. Two types of LMP1 are eligible :
- LMP1-H(Hybrid) cars as produced by Toyota (and Porsche last year) which feature an energy recovery system (ERS).
- LMP1-L(Light) cars are those entered exclusively by private teams which are independent of a manufacturer.
- LMP2 : An LMP2 car can be open or closed cockpit, and is designed and produced by chassis suppliers specifically for endurance racing and for teams independent of manufacturers and/or engine suppliers. Specialist companies such as Oreca build and sell these cost-capped cars to teams all over the world. Development and costs are strictly controlled.
- LM GTE Pro : Aimed at professional drivers, with entries coming from factory-backed teams from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche. It is not the exclusive preserve of factory teams.
- LM GTE Am : Aimed more specifically at amateur drivers, with the support of one professional driver in a line up, and using cars which are at least one year old.
Unsurprisingly, the Toyota dominated the Paul Ricard test in the LMP1 category. The withdrawal of Porsche late last year gives a nice advantage to the Japanese giant this year. Here’s a gallery below with the proceedings of the Prologue from the Paul Ricard Circuit. We have to thank our friends over at Omologato watches who helped us bring the coverage to you. Head over to their website to check out their motorsport-inspired chronographs.