WEC: Bumper 36-car field validates off-season changes
The record 36-car entry for the 2018/19 World Endurance Championship is validation of the series' drastic overhaul, according to its bosses.
Pierre Fillon, president of series promoter the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, and championship boss Gerard Neveu said the increased entry was a direct result of the creation of the superseason incorporating two editions of the Le Mans 24 Hours and new rules to boost the competitiveness of LMP1 privateers.
Fillon told Motorsport.com: "After the retirement of Porsche from LMP1 we were worried, but we worked hard with the FIA on the superseason and new LMP1 rules.
"All the decisions we made validate the big decisions that were taken. An entry of 36 cars is the result, which is a very good surprise for us."
Neveu added: "Many fans, many people, were worried about the future of endurance racing, especially Le Mans and the WEC, but today we can see that we don't need to be worried."
Additionally, Neveu said that the WEC and the ACO, together with the FIA, had "provided the right answers to the problems" precipitated by Porsche's P1 withdrawal.
He revealed that the WEC had been able to stretch the entry beyond the previously-mooted 34-car maximum because the travel schedule for the superseason would involve only sea freight rather than a mixture of sea and air travel as in the past.
He explained that this key cost-saving component of the superseason concept had "given the scope to increase the entry".
The only track on the seven-race superseason that could have problems accommodating 36 cars is Shanghai.
"It will be challenging at Shanghai, but we have already said to the GTE Am teams that we are are happy to accept nine cars [for the season], but you will have to share garages in Shanghai," Neveu said.
"It is in the interests of the paddock to find a solution."
Neveu also said that there was the possibility of accepting additional entries for the Spa round in May, as in previous years, remained.
"There are one of two teams who want to come before Le Mans, and we are already working on that," he said.
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