CEO Atherton expresses disappointment on WEC 2012 calendar

Nancy Knapp Schilke, ALMS Correspondent

Petit Le Mans event was not listed on 2012 World Endurance Championship calendar

Scott Atherton, President and CEO at Panoz Motor Sports Group, was shocked that the Petit Le Mans race held at Road Atlanta was not listed on the FIA World Endurance Championship’s inaugural 2012 calendar. Not only was he shocked but others were also, including the fans.

Atherton is also the President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series whose teams and drivers will participate in the WEC; which evolved from a partnership formed by the FIA and the ACO. It is based on the past two years of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.

In a statement today, Atherton said, “From the beginning of discussions on the concept of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) through its evolution into the FIA World Endurance Championship, the American Le Mans Series has worked to assist the ACO in advancing our sport on a worldwide basis.”

...disappointment to suddenly learn that the ACO has decided to schedule an event in conflict with Petit Le Mans in 2012.

Scott Atherton

The Petit Le Mans inaugural race was in 1998, the year before Dr. Don Panoz formed the ALMS. It is a one-of-a-kind race for sportscar teams worldwide. It is one of the two most prestigious events over the past years where European, Asian and other International teams have attended. The event is unique as it is 1000 miles (approximately 394 laps) or a maximum of 10 hours, whichever comes first. Along with the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the debut of new teams and the new cars have been showcased.

Sebring International Raceway is also owned by the PMSG and while their event is listed – the first one on the 2012 WEC calendar – Petit Le Mans is not. The ALMS has over the years since the first Petit Le Mans worked with the ACO. Plus both events were on the 2011 ILMC calendar this year, and in fact, the LMP1 championship in the ILMC this year at Petit.

“While we have agreed with the ACO that Sebring would be the opening round of this new championship, we were still in discussions with them regarding the 2012 Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda. After the 24 Hours of Le Mans itself, two of the world's greatest endurance sports car races are Petit Le Mans and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida. That is why it is an even greater disappointment to suddenly learn that the ACO has decided to schedule an event in conflict with Petit Le Mans in 2012,” continued Atherton in his statement today.

The conflict is that on the same weekend as Petit Le Mans, a WEC event will be at Bahrain so it is in direct competition with the Petit Le Mans race on October 20th.

"Even so, we're undeterred in our efforts to work with Road Atlanta to make next year's Petit Le Mans even greater than its record-setting success this year. It is and will absolutely remain one of the greatest sports car races in the world today,” said Atherton in his statement.

Just a month ago, Atherton attended the Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA and was looking forward to the 2012 ALMS season and the WEC contest. There was a lot of talk in the paddock from fans of Porsche and other visitors about the new year. The mood was excitement and Atherton was looking forward to 2012. He still is but now there is disappointment due to the WEC schedule.

Start of 2011 Petit Le Mans
Start of 2011 Petit Le Mans

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Don Panoz , Eric Gilbert
Tags aco, atherton, featured, petit lemans, wec, world endurance