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Silverstone returns as World Endurance Championship revamps calendar

Motor-racing series the World Endurance Championship (WEC) has adjusted its calendar for the 2018-19 season, which will now feature an event at Silverstone.

The English circuit will host the 6 Hours of Silverstone event on August 19 next year. The event will run in conjunction with a round of the European Le Mans Series, details of which will be revealed this week.

The 2018-19 WEC ‘super season’ will begin in April next year with The Prologue, a testing event that will be held at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will take place on May 5 before the WEC’s showpiece race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is held on June 16-17.

On an initial calendar released by the WEC earlier this month, there had been a four-month gap between Le Mans and the 6 Hours of Fuji event in Japan on October 14. This gap has been filled with the Silverstone event, while the Fuji race has also been pushed back a week to October 21.

After visiting Japan, the WEC will travel to China for the 6 Hours of Shanghai on November 18, and the United States for the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 16-17, 2019. The latter will be a combined event with the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, although two separate races will be held.

The 2018-19 campaign returns to Europe for second editions of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 4, 2019 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15-16, 2019.

The WEC said it had “listened intently” to competitors and fans since revealing the initial calendar earlier this month, which had left the door open for an extra event in February 2019. The extra spot has instead been filled by the Silverstone event in August.

The Autosport website said that Mexico City and Interlagos in Brazil had been lined up for the February slot, with Silverstone having been reserved as a back-up option.

WEC chief executive Gerard Neveu suggested Silverstone could have a long-term home in the series. “We are not discussing the 2019-20 calendar at the moment, but when we go somewhere we want to stay for a long time and build something,” he said, according to Autosport.

“People need to understand that an event will happen at the same time every year.”

The WEC has traditionally operated an annual calendar model, but this will now change. With the new calendar format, the number of races will be reduced from nine in 2017 to eight in 2018-19 then to seven in 2019-20, which is expected to be the optimal number.