The season opening round of the WEC, due to take place at Sebring, Florida, USA, has been canceled and the 2021 championship will now commence in Portimao, Portugal. Due to the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation, as well as various changing directives from governments in different countries, including travel restrictions, the WEC says it did not want to take any unnecessary risks. With freight due to be sent to the USA imminently, a decision needed to be made early to help teams prepare for the 2021 season.
With this in mind and the majority of the championship’s teams being based in Europe, after consulting IMSA, Sebring International Raceway and the FIA, a decision was made to hold the first race of the year in Europe. Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve International Circuit will also host the Prologue, the WEC’s official pre-season test, on March 30-31, with the race taking place on the April 4.
Frédéric Lequien, CEO of the FIA WEC, commented, “Over the past few months we have seen that the pandemic is extremely unpredictable and 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 cancelation would have economic implications for the entire WEC family, so we took a responsible decision. Portimão 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 eight-hour race there in April.”
The intention of the promoter and organizers is to retain the remainder of the calendar unchanged, with Spa-Francorchamps set to host round two at the beginning of May followed by the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Monza will host an inaugural WEC race in July while the championship is set to return to Fuji in Japan in September.