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FIA grants WEC GTE class World Championship status from 2017

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The GTE class of the FIA World Endurance Championship has been granted World Championship status by the FIA ahead of the 2017 season.

Through the first five seasons of the WEC, official World Championship titles were only afforded to the winning drivers and team in the LMP1 class.

However, following a push for recognition of the class by the series officials, the GTE Pro class – which has been a ‘World Cup’ up to now – will now also become a World Championship.

The decision was confirmed by the FIA following the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Vienna.

“The World Motor Sport Council approved the proposal to upgrade the status of the GTE class. This class has previously been run as a World Cup within the WEC,” a statement from the FIA reads.

“From 2017, the new title will be the FIA World Endurance Championship for GTE Drivers and Manufacturers.

“This has been decided due to the increase of GTE manufacturer involvement in the Championship, as well as improvements in professionalism and car performance.”

The WMSC also approved the decision to freeze the technical regulations for the LMP1 class of the WEC until the end of the 2019 season.

“The Technical Regulations originally scheduled to be introduced for the LMP1-Hybrid class in 2018, have now been postponed until 2020,” the statement read.

“As a result, the 2017 Technical Regulations will be enforced for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.