On Thursday, IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship jointly announced a couple of key schedule changes for the WEC’s visit to Sebring in 2019 as part of their “super series.” The race has been cut in length from 1500 miles to either 1000 miles or eight hours, whatever comes first. That also results in a name change to the 1000 Miles of Sebring. The distance rules are somewhat similar to what the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta had prior to 2014.
In addition, the race will be held earlier. Originally, the event was scheduled to begin at Midnight on March 17, 2019, roughly two hours after the conclusion of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts. The race will now take place on Friday, March 15, 2019. An official start time was not noted, but the release indicates that the race will begin during the day and end at night. In addition, a separate pit lane will be constructed for WEC teams on the Ullmann Straight (the run from turns 16 to 17) on a former runway.
IMSA and ACO officials are satisfied that the changes will suit everyone involved.
“I am delighted to see that Scott [Atherton, IMSA President] and Gérard [Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship], together with their respective teams from the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and the WEC, have been able to find very good solutions to the many challenges associated with staging this event,” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club d’Ouest (ACO). “We will take a great deal of satisfaction in being part of this premier racing weekend in the USA next March 2019.”
“The decisions that came from our discussions with the WEC, FIA and track management promise to make the 2019 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts weekend an absolute must for sports car racing fans from across North America and around the world,” Atherton stated. “In the weeks and months ahead, we know this spirit of cooperation will continue as we complete the process of planning what promises to be an unprecedented showcase of sports car endurance racing for the fans – and competitors in each championship.”
2019 will not be the first time that the FIA World Endurance Championship will compete at Sebring. In 2012, the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring was run as a combined race between the WEC and the American Le Mans Series. The result was complete chaos. For all intents and purposes, the event was run as two separate 12 hour races at the same time with nine classes (five for ALMS, four for the WEC). Three of them (ALMS GT, along with the WEC’s GTE-Pro and GTE-Am) ran similar equipment.
Audi Sport Team Joest’s No. 2 Audi R18 for Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish won overall. The best finishing ALMS team was Level 5 Motorsports’ No. 055 P2-class HPD ARX-03b shared by Joao Barbosa, Christophe Bouchut and the now-imprisoned Scott Tucker in fourth overall, six laps down.