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WEC reveals eight-race winter calendar for 2018-19, Sebring returns

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The FIA World Endurance Championship will return to Sebring International Raceway in 2019 as part of a new winter calendar set to come into force next year.

Featuring eight races across 18 months, the 2018/19 WEC ‘super season’ will see the championship achieve its long-held goal of finishing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with two visits to the Circuit de la Sarthe scheduled in the campaign.

The six-hour race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas has been cut, as have the Silverstone, Nürburgring, Mexico City and Bahrain events from the existing nine-race schedule.

Having hosted the inaugural WEC race back in 2012, Sebring returns to the calendar as part of a double-header weekend that will see a 12-hour event run directly after the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s own race.

2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship Provisional Calendar

1. 4-5 May – WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
2. 16-17 June – 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)
3. 13-14 October – 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN)
4. 3-4 November – 6 Hours of Shanghai (CHN)
5. February 2019 – Place and event TBC
6. 15-16 March 2019 – 12 Hours of Sebring (USA)
7. 3-4 May 2019 – WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
8. 15-16 June 2019 – 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)

In the same announcement, officials from the FIA and the ACO confirmed tweaks to the regulations for LMP1 from 2018 in reaction to Porsche’s shock decision to quit the class at the end of the season, the aim being to stimulate more interest from manufacturers to join Toyota in the category.

Here are the planned changes:

  • From 2018/2019, and in the future, there will only be one category (and consequently one classification) in LMP1.
  • To make it as accessible as possible to join this category from the 2018-2019 season onwards, the level of performance of the current non-hybrid LMP1 regulations managed via equivalence of technologies will be aligned with the current LMP1 hybrid regulations.
  • Each competitor entered in LMP1 will have the same potential of performance independent of the type engine power used. Very clearly there will always be a slight advantage for the hybrid engine in terms of autonomy related to lower fuel consumption.
  • There will be no changes made to the current chassis regulations (only LMP1 chassis will be eligible) but to facilitate the access to LMP1, more choice and engine power options will be offered. Depending on the selected criteria, an Equivalence of Technology will be implemented between turbo compressed and normally aspirated engines (as done in the past between petrol and diesel).
  • All these decisions will apply for the next two seasons.

“Other regulatory decisions, which are still being finalized, will be announced later on covering areas such as a reduction in the number of private tests and collective tests proposed,” the statement from the series adds.

“The 2020 LMP1 regulations will be substantially altered as compared to the model presented during the last 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The ACO and the FIA remain wholeheartedly convinced that technology including Hybrid systems must keep its place of honor in Endurance racing, but not at any price.

“The budgets invested over these last years in LMP1 Hybrid are no longer sustainable and a return to reasonable budgets should allow all manufacturers to compete in this discipline.”

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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