WEC - Going Full Circle | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WEC - Going Full Circle

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On the 18th March 2012 the FIA World Endurance Championship held the inaugural race at Sebring International Raceway in Florida with Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen crossing the line at the end of the 12 hours of racing to become the first winners in the new era of the WEC.

Over the past seven years there have been 55 races in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Asia. Now, on the 15th March 2019, the FIA WEC will come full circle when the world championship returns to Sebring for round 6 of the 2018/19 Super Season, the 56th race since the first event.

In another nod to WEC history, 2013 world endurance champion and three time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Allan McNish will be the event’s Grand Marshal, waving of the 34 cars at the start of the 1000 miles of Sebring on Friday afternoon.

The race of 2012 was unique in many ways.  It was the only time that a WEC grid was shared with another race series, the American Le Mans Series, which saw a total of 64 cars take part in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

It was also the only 12 hour race ever run, with all of the other races being of 6 hours duration, with the exception of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The 2019 race will also be a first for the FIA World Endurance Champion, as it will be the first 8-hour race ever held.

Since 2012 only two drivers, Andre Lotterer and Christian Ried, have competed in every race up to, and including, round 5 of the 2018/19 season held at Shanghai in November 2018.  With Lotterer missing from the Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson for the 1000 Miles of Sebring, Ried will be taking to the track at the wheel of the no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche as the only driver with an unbroken record of race starts going back to the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 2012.

A total of 14 drivers who took the start at the 2012 12 Hours of Sebring will be on the grid seven years later.

2012 LMP2 race winner Stephane Sarrazin, who took the class victory in the no44 Starworks Motorsport HPD ARX-Honda alongside Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio, will race in the LMP1 category in the no17 SMP Racing BR1-AER.

Neel Jani is the second LMP1 driver, the 2016 FIA WEC Drivers Champion, who in 2012 raced in the no12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota, finishing 7th in LMP1.

2013 FIA World Endurance Champion Loic Duval raced with Audi at Sebring in 2012, finishing 2nd four laps behind McNish, Capello and Kristensen.  The French driver will be on the grid in 2019 at the wheel of the LMP2 class TDS Racing Oreca 07-Gibson.

Five drivers in LMGTE Pro were on the grid in 2012, with Richard Lietz (Porsche) and Darren Turner (Aston Martin) the only drivers racing for the same manufacturer in 2019.  Lietz finished 2nd  and Turner finished 3rd in 2012.

Gianmaria Bruni raced for Ferrari with Giancarlo Fisichella, who will race the no54 Spirit of Race F488 in the LMGTE Am class in 2019, and Tony Villander.  A post race penalty excluded the no51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 from the result. In 2019 Bruni returns to Florida as a Porsche driver alongside Lietz in the no91 Porsche 911 RSR.

Ford teammates Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla, who will race the no66 Ford GT with Billy Johnson, both competed for different teams.  Pla raced the LMP2 class no24 Oak Racing Morgan-Judd, finishing second in the category, while Mücke was teammates with Darren Turner in the no97 Aston Martin Vantage and finished on the podium.

Christian Ried started his run of 55 FIA WEC race starts with a class win alongside Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti in the LMGTE Am class Porsche 911 RSR.  In 2019 Ried will race the no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche, while Roda, who is also the 2018 European Le Mans Series LMGTE Champion, will drive the no88 Porsche with his son Giorgio, who is also the reigning ELMS champion.

Olivier Beretta will start the 2019 race at Sebring in the no70 MR Racing Ferrari F488, while in 2012 Beretta stood on the top step of the LMGTE podium alongside Andrea Bertolini and Marco Cioci after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring classs in the no71 AF Corse Ferrari F458.

Pedro Lamy was also an LMGTE Am podium finisher in 2012, finishing 3rd in the no50 Larbre Competition Corvette.  In 2019 he returns to Sebring in the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage as reigning LMGTE Am Champion with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda.

The final driver who was on the grid in 2012 is Argentine Luis Perez Companc, who returns to the WEC in the no61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari.  In 2012 Perez Companc finished third in the LMP2 category in the Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan.

The 1000 miles of Sebring will get underway at 16:00 on Friday 15 March with a full grid of 34 cars. The chequered flag is due to be shown at midnight, 8 hours later.