The sports car racing world is getting smaller with the announcement that Le Mans organizers Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) which is a world sanctioning body, have decided to join forces to create the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The ACO combined its premier events - including the 24 Hours of Le Mans - into the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, which had three races last year and began the season at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring in March. The new GT series will be incorporated into the ILMC for 2012, the ACO said.
The FIA's GT Endurance series has been on the ropes of late and last year was incorporated - with few entries - into the Le Mans race.
The new series will consist of a minimum of six events and includes Le Mans, according to the FIA statement. "FIA World Endurance Championship titles will be awarded to constructors and drivers, and an FIA GT Endurance World Cup will be created for constructors."
The FIA will combine the current three classes for next year; they are GT1, GT2 and GT3, allowing all three types to compete in what is currently the FIA GT1 World Championship - with performance balancing.
The FIA statement continued: "From 2012 a new GT World class will be created, balancing the performance of 2011 GT1 cars, 2009 GT2 cars and 2011 GT3 cars to enable them to compete in a single FIA GT World Championship. A review of the performance of these three categories of cars will be conducted in order to open up the championship to a greater number of makes."
Since World GT1 currently uses designs adjusted from the rules used by a previous FIA GT1 class, there have been few new entries. Only Nissan and Ford (via the Matech team) have developed cars specifically for this championship, starting with the 2010 race season.
To symbolically seal the partnership, FIA president Jean Todt has been asked to start the 79th 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 11th at 3PM.
© 2011 Anne Proffit