Report: Austin sports car weekend could be in for changes

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This past September, the American Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship shared the weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. But the WEC’s boss wants changes to be made for the 2014 running before he decides to bring his series back to the States.

According to John Dagys of SportsCar 365, Gerard Neveu is asking that his WEC stage a day-to-night event on that Saturday afternoon, while the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship potentially shifts to running earlier that day; in 2013, the ALMS held its race at COTA on Saturday with the WEC following on Sunday.

In his comments to Dagys, Neveu expressed his wishes for a compromise between the WEC and the United series, but noted that he and the other teams in his series were not pleased about the Austin weekend this fall. As Dagys writes, less than 8,000 people out of the overall weekend attendance of 35,000 reportedly took in the WEC’s six-hour event at COTA.

“…Clearly the position of the [Automobile Club de l’Ouest] is to protect the WEC, it’s not to promote another series,” Neveu says. “In all spirits, when we wanted to do a joint venture, it was to make sure it was a successful event for both parties during the weekend.

“This is not the feeling after Austin. This is not the feeling that the paddock had in Austin. This is not the feeling and the feedback we received from our partners and from the FIA.”

Neveu also revealed that discussions are underway between the track and IMSA regarding the weekend’s organization.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.