World Endurance Championship Swaps Sebring for Portimao in 2021 Season Opener

The first race in the new Hypercar era of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will take place in Portugal in April, after the championship’s organizers dropped Sebring from the calendar.

WEC took the decision to drop the planned season-opener of the 1,000 Miles of Sebring due to the ongoing global situation, and changing travel restrictions. The race was due to take place over the weekend of March 19-21, with teams and suppliers set to start shipping freight to Florida soon. With costs and logistics in mind — and the majority of teams having a European base — WEC opted to shelve the race with plenty of notice.

Instead of slashing the calendar from six races to five, the FIA has chosen to add in the 8 Hours of Portimao, at the Algarve International Circuit. The venue, also known simply as Portimao, will host the pre-season “Prologue” test on March 30-31, and then the race itself over the following weekend on April 2-4.

Frederic Lequien, CEO of WEC, commented:

“After several discussions with key parties, the decision was made for the beginning of the season to remain in Europe where most of our teams are based. The consequences of a last-minute cancellation would have economic implications for the entire WEC family, so we took a responsible decision.

“Portimao has provided some extremely close racing in ELMS and has excellent facilities, we are very much looking forward to getting our new season underway with an 8-hour race there in April.”

The rest of the 2021 calendar will continue as originally planned, pending any further complications. That means there’ll be four European rounds to start the championship, with the two rounds in Asia to conclude the 2021 season. The current calendar is as follows:

  • March 30-31 – Prologue – Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portugal
  • April 4 – 8 Hours of Portimao – Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portugal
  • May 1 – 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
  • June 12-13 – 24 Hours of Le Mans – Circuit de la Sarthe, France
  • July 18 – 6 Hours of Monza – Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy
  • September 26 – 6 Hours of Fuji – Fuji International Speedway, Japan
  • November 20 – 8 Hours of Bahrain – Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain

In addition to the full calendar, WEC announced the full-season, 33-car entry list yesterday. The includes the debut of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus team, with its SCG007 Hypercar, and the Toyota GR010 hybrid.

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