Portimão shifted to June; Spa-Francorchamps set to host FIA WEC season-opener
Photo: Portimao

Portimão shifted to June; Spa-Francorchamps set to host FIA WEC season-opener

The opening round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship, which was due to be held in Portimão (Portugal) in early April, has been postponed until June. Spa-Francorchamps will now host the Prologue, as well as the WEC season-opener.

The decision, approved at today's FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting, has been made following the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including travel restrictions from different Governments in various countries, meaning travel to and from Portugal is heavily compromised. Furthermore, it is hoped that the new date for Portimão will increase the possibility of fans being able to attend the race.

For the 100th anniversary of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the Official Prologue will now take place in Belgium from 26-27 April – the first time that the WEC’s pre-season test has been staged in Belgium. The season-opening TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will get underway a few days later (1 May). The 8 Hours of Portimão will slot into the WEC calendar in the original 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend (12-13 June).

The 6 Hours of Monza will remain in mid-July with Le Mans scheduled from 21-22 August – the ACO announcing earlier this week that it will move to August when there will be a higher chance of spectator attendance.

All changes to the 2021 WEC calendar have been made in accordance with the ACO, the FIA and the circuit organisers.

The final two rounds of WEC Season 9, which will take place in Fuji (Japan) and Bahrain, will remain unchanged.

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “Due to the ongoing pandemic situation, we have to be extremely flexible in our decision-making. We are continually adapting to government decisions, especially restrictions on travel between different countries. Following discussions with WEC competitors, we have no choice but to delay the start of the season. We have, however, managed to keep all the rounds on the calendar which is our number one priority. We now look forward to the opening race at Spa in May and to seeing the Hypercars do battle on track for the first time.”

Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission: “In the reality affected by the global health crisis, all sporting calendars have to be considered fluid and nothing is set in stone. Having said that, I’m full of praise for the efforts of the promoter of the FIA World Endurance Championship for their flexibility and reactive approach. Delaying the start of the season should be beneficial for everyone involved, from the competitors to the fans.”

Frédéric Lequien, CEO of the FIA WEC: “I would like to thank our teams, suppliers, partners, the FIA, the Portimão and Spa-Francorchamps circuit organisers, the LMEM team and many others for their cooperation in what continues to be a difficult time for everyone. The new date for Portimão will give us a better chance of allowing fans to attend and we are certain that the change in schedule is more favourable for all concerned.”