The GTE division of the FIA WEC has been granted official world championship status from 2017 onwards, the governing body has announced.
Up to now, the GTE class for both drivers and manufacturers has been run as a 'World Cup' within the wider FIA WEC structure.
But series boss Gerard Neveu confirmed during the Shanghai round earlier this month that a proposal to upgrade the class to full FIA world championship status would be put before the World Motor Sport Council, which held its latest meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.
An FIA statement confirmed the move, saying it was "due to the increase of GTE manufacturer involvement in the championship, as well as improvements in professionalism and car performance."
Ferrari, Ford, Aston Martin and Porsche will all field full manufacturer entries in the GTE-Pro division of WEC next season, with BMW joining them in 2018.
Neveu said: "The announcement of this world title is excellent news for the WEC and rewards a grid of excellent quality. This decision should speed up the arrival of other manufacturers in this category.”
The FIA WMSC statement also confirmed that the previously reported LMP1 rules freeze will go ahead, meaning the existing hybrid regulations are to be kept in place until the end of 2019.