ELMS: 2012 calendar change – Zolder dropped

During a meeting held on Saturday evening (31st March) at the Paul Ricard circuit, theatre of the first round of the European Le Mans Series, Pierre Fillon, (Automobile Club de l’Ouest Vice President), Ge?rard Neveu (FIA World Endurance Championship General Manager), Patrick Peter (European Le Mans Series promoter) and Vincent Beaumesnil (ACO Sports Director), decided to cancel the second ELMS round scheduled for Zolder (Belgium) on 18? 19?20 May after consulting all the teams involved.

This decision, the outcome of a long discussion, was taken because the number of entrants (19) for the Belgian round was judged to be insufficient to ensure that the race unfolded in the best possible manner to ensure media fallout worthy of a 6?hour event. The various partners involved in the European Le Mans Series have given themselves the time to assemble a field of 25 cars minimum for the Donington round on 13?14?15 July.

To achieve this objective, discussions have begun between the different partners to find solutions to attract more entrants for the various categories, in particular GTE, FLM and GTC. For the latter widening the range of eligible cars is being studied, and will be confirmed as soon as possible according to the results of the technical assessment carried out by the ACO. Pierre Fillon (Automobile Club de l’Ouest Vice President) has renewed his interest and his determination to see the European Le Mans Series develop. Its vocation is to prepare teams and drivers for the top level of endurance, the pinnacle of which is the Le Mans 24?Hours race, which accepts 55 starters. Thirty come from the FIA World Endurance Championship, the others from the American Le Mans Series and the European Le Mans Series whose aim is to have 35 entries next season.

In the meantime, and subject to a waiver on the part of the Fe?de?ration Internationale de l’Automobile for later entry on the calendar, a certain number of ELMS teams who want to have more track time before the Le Mans 24 Hours may be accepted for the Spa? Francorchamps round of the FIA WEC on 4?5?6 May. They will be informed next week.

After the Le Castellet 6 Hours and following the cancellation of the Zolder event, the 2012 ELMS calendar consist of 3 further rounds: Donington 13?14?15 July, Brno 7?9 September and Algarve 2?4 November.

16 Comments on ELMS: 2012 calendar change – Zolder dropped

  1. Well that ain’t good! Maybe they can attract some GT3 teams to go to Donnington, it doesn’t already have a GT3 endurance race, but it is a little too close to Spa 24. Maybe the other two rounds though. There aren’t any 6 hour GT3 races to my knowledge, only 4, 12 and 24 hour races.

  2. The Ricard weekend was approached with some trepidation but they put on a very good show, the number of P2’s ensured the overall fight lasted most of the race while GTE always delivers.

    Any team on the fence must have been convinced the series is worth entering, Guess Racing (again!) say they hope to enter with their car upgraded to ’12 spec, apparently a new Lola is going to an unknown European team. You’d hope a good number of LMPC’s will come out of the woodwork, it’s a proven class for teams and drivers to bring themselves to wider attention while GTC gives an international platform for cars that aren’t headliners at national level.

    Unless there’s a major about turn, I don’t know how GT3 will be allowed given there equal performance level, if they are it’s an admission GTE’s future is in doubt, but ultimately it’s upto teams with eligible GTE’s to support the class.

  3. Terrific,Fire the frogs running this series into the wall before really getting started. Terrific potental for ALL sportscar racing. Real races maxed out with entries in Florida this winter; Sebring-63-starters / Daytona 50+ cars in this boring series but good GT fields. TIDE pozzi ferrari france, LeMans 81,fifth o.a. IMSA class winner.

  4. The WEC has cherry picked some of the good teams to run in WEC and the situation isn’t good for the ELMS because I personally think they made a mistake by allowing P1 to dropped and making P2 the top class. The low GTE car count can also be explained by the over saturation of GT series running around Europe.

  5. It’s an obvious conclusion to make, but I happen to think it’s wrong, in recent years ELMS numbers dropped from the mid forties to under thirty, that was before the WEC, and with a P1 class. It’s a series I followed very closely, hoping it would become “our” ALMS, but it never happened.

    On one side GT3 series provide an attractive, cost effective (at least until now) alternative in which Pro/Am pairings have a chance to succeed, on the other side the ELMS didn’t serve the needs of manufacturers with Le Mans becoming the only race of the year that mattered, hence pushing for the WEC.

    The composition of this years ELMS grid shows they’ve chosen the right direction with new teams and cars in P2 – GTE and the spec classes are the letdown.

    Series need 5-10 year development plans, it’s increasingly important manufacturers and major sponsors reach markets like Asia, India, North/South America, Europe etc. when spending the sums a Le Mans program costs, likewise a stepping stone from national sportscar series to the World level is needed.

    It may sound crazy now but I think the ELMS is well positioned for the future having made a bold class structure decision a year or two earlier than needed be.

  6. If P2 entries can pick up, that would be a very good thing for the ELMS. I might be jumping to conclusions here, but I think that manufacturers just aren’t interested enough in GTE, and GT3 is far more successful, and pretty similar anyway. That said, the LMPC and GTC classes aren’t doing as well as anticipated, and so they are almost lost causes. I’d guess that an Oreca 03 costs little more than an LMPC to buy and to run, so there is little incentive to stay in LMPC. Its obvious that LMP2 is going to only get better from here, and I think the ACO should capitalise on that, maybe splitting into two separate cost capped classes later on down the track (one cheaper than the other), but splitting in two sure didn’t work out for GT2, so maybe something else needs to be done. Perhaps a far simpler series with just LMP2 and one or two GT classes is not out of the question.

  7. Today FIA GT3’s entry list was announced and they have just 14 cars, FIA GT1 managed 18 after Ratel called in every possible favour.

    I’ve said it elsewhere, it’s time for the ACO and FIA (Ratel) to agree common rules for GT, there needs to be a new GT1 class where manufacturers can showcase hybrid tech, GT2 needs to be cost-capped o privateers aren’t faced with ever rising costs.

  8. @JAG
    Just checked the FIA GT3 European Championship entry list – you are right, it’s very poor. I guess this championship is obsolete after the growth of the Blancpain Endurance Series. In contrary, the GT1 World Championship has again a really good driver lineup.
    But originally, we’re talking here about ELMS and LMP2. It’s a pity that the Zolder race is victim of an improved Spa 1000 km LMP2 entry list. But it wasn’t a good idea anyway to run two endurance events in Belgium within a short time. Zolder should have been scheduled later this year.
    All in all, this is bad news after a promising start at Le Castellet, but I still think the ELMS concept to serve as a “feeder series” for WEC has a future.

  9. The Blancpain series has 40+ entries, clearly a winning formula considering they are now all GT3s. Its no supprise really, sprint races aren’t such a good format, and the prestige of the Spa 24H, plus a better selection of tracks and the same number of rounds is a much better deal.

    Anyway, I agree JAG, this has gone on long enough. Only a couple of years ago, the two top FIA GT classes were almost exactly the same as the top ACO GT classes, and the naming system was simple, GT1 and GT2.

  10. @ everybody. Stop talking and thinking about ACO and WEC. WEC will not long survive. I’ve read a lot of reactions GT3 should go to ELMS/ALMS/24h, i’ve read FIA should make it easier : GTE would become GT1, GT3 would become GT2…

    I HOPE NOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ACO did make a BIG mistake ruling out the GT1’s from 2011 on. ACO dit make a BIG mistake organising a WEC with FIA-rules out of 24H and their own rules within 24H.( and listening to Peugeot ( Who???? )).

    Results :
    There are more GT3’s comparing with GT2’s. So, ACO made a wrong choice ignoring the “new” GT1’s from 2011 on, because in fact they’ve killed their own GTE ( read GT2 ), you’ll see.

    And now, many think GT3 is the way out. Thnx, but no Thnx. I’ve had it with ACO. The WEC will kill ELMS for sure, ALMS is almost as death as a dunkey ( ignoring Formula Le Mans and GTC, only needed to fill up the grid ),
    listen to me, the 24H of Le Mans is in danger as well ( compare it with the middle nineties )).

    Who saved teh 24H Le Mans after by example the collapsing of Broup C and other problems —- BPR.

    BPR??? Barth-Peter-RATEL !!!!.

    Who has been saving 24 H of Spa in 2001 ( was as death as you can imagine ). RATEL !!.

    Who invented GT3? —— RATEL.

    Who wanted GT3-“with options” tot run WC GT1 — FIA ( surprise, not Ratel this time, he wasn’t happy at Silverstone in the begin of june last year ( I was there and i’ve seen his reactions !!!), because FIA announced GT World would be GT1-GT2-GT3, which afterwards was changed into GT3-spec.

    Who is the biggest competitor against SRO? —— SRO!!!
    SRO’s succes in British GT, ADAC GT Master ( Barth, you know BPR… ), GT Tour ( in France, yes, they are still involved ) and Blancpain series, comparing with GT3-specs in the WC makes it difficult to find a large grid for the FIA GT3 EM.

    Who’s to blame?
    Not SRO, they’re doing still what they can… ( Did anybody off you know (E)LMS was founded by Ratel after the collapsing of the WC Sportscars about 10 years ago????, Well it’s so….. ).
    FIA. Yep, changing the rules all the time. Responsability = Todt ( defending ACO’s bucket list ). I still prefer Max Mosley ( and his sexual escapades did have nothing to do wit his job !!!!), he CAME UP and DEFENDED the EXCISTING FIA-series. Jean Todt is a puppet of ACO.
    Last but not least, ACO. Did you see the pictures of their board lately??? They really think nothing can happen to them ( untill Peugeot did say it was over ), but it won’t stop there……

    Conclusion, ACO, keep your hands off of GT3 and try to survive with your own rules. To all the readers, i’m NO fan of the 24H Le Mans ( not at all, for years, don’t even understand the hype ( but hype’s don’t keep on living )), I’m a REAL, GREAT FAN of GT-racing ( and becuse of this, i respect SRO – RATEL as the true promotors of GT-racing ).

    And, as a last word…. Who, within ACO, will be working so committed as the people of SRO do for their own series ???? eeehhhrr, i know NOBODY of ACO capable of doing so ( unless they ask it to the trio BPR and i hope they will refuse… ).

  11. Are you saying the FIA shafted FIA GT1 by giving the go-ahead to the FIA WEC? I’d argue an Endurance World Championship has greater justification for existence given Le Mans’ history and the role unique role it can play with regards to fuel efficient technology, something that’s at the forefront of the auto industries thoughts.

    The Word Sportscar Championship had a long and storied history as great as F1 until a certain Mr Ecclestone took control and cynically set about using it to boost F1, bringing about the end to a series which began in 1953.

    It’s now 2012, the worlds at your fingertips, all sports are internationalised, even those that compete in domestically like the English Premier League or NFL. At least for me it’s strange logic to suggest sportscar racing shouldn’t have a global platform once again given the sport is competing against F1, touring cars and rallying for the attention of manufactuers, teams, sponsors and media coverage, no longer can you rely on the 24hrs alone to justify the ROI, particularly if you don’t win.

    With regards to the ELMS, they have the correct class structure, there’s a desire and need for a European series for prototypes, so as with all good ideas it will eventually find it’s feet. I’ve always believed the ALMS had a bright future for much the same reason, in recent years there’s been a number of ideas put forward why the ALMS was on borrowed time – from Grand-Am, management to the WEC – but recent events such as interest in P2 and the Viper announcement shows you can’t keep a good series down, even if there is more than the odd grumble about the media package or spec classes. The Asian LMS will be a harder nut to crack but there is increasing Asian interest at Le Mans, and what appears to be greater cross-over in tech and philosophy between ACO and Super GT500 racing.

    GT3 was another good idea, Ratel’s idea too, but we are far from the original concept of Porsche Cup levels of performace and costs. Such ideals are what made GT3 attractive to national championships, cars have become more advanced and so far everyone seems content with what they consider the ultimate GT3’s – R8 LMS, MP4, SLS, Z4 etc. – trouble ill come if a new car takes the game further in 2013, will SRO reign it in or expect the competition to upgrade machinery in twelve month cycles?

    We’ve been here before in BPR GT and the introduction of the 911 GT1, if the brakes were put on with regards to road car production numbers and limiting evolutions, the class may have stuck around. As it happens Mclaren teams upgraded to long-tail models to compete with the 911, only to find both were trumped by the CLK-GTR, at that point BMW bailed and built a prototype.

    SRO have done well with GT3 but as you say their biggest competition is themselves. It looks like FIA GT3 has been sacrificed for FIA GT1, while Blancpain has taken care of itself due to the endurance format. British GT and other national series are on a high ATM, I’ve seen that before with both incarnations of GT1 and GT2, it will only last if the playing field and costs are controlled, many teams will have stretched themselves to field one of the latest GT3’s, organisers need to ensure those cars have three to four years competitiveness ahead of them.

    The basic difference between the ACO and SRO is the relationship with manufacturers, the ACO embraces them (for good & for bad), SRO see them as suppliers, as brands to make their grids look diverse.

    Down the years Le Mans has seen the value in Ford vs Ferrari, Porsche vs Jaguar, Audi vs Toyota and Viper vs Corvette, manufactuers fully invested who bring huge media coverage, and in turn attracts sponsors and benefits the grid as a whole. Right now essentially privateer teams are swallowing the cost of FIA GT1 with SRO marketing events, sometimes it works, but often it’s a struggle without manufactuer behind you buying air time, trackside sponsorship, offering tickets etc.

    Finally (at last) I’ll address regs, the ACO/FIA have joint working groups, meetings also take place with manufacturers and interested parties for prototypes and GT’s, Porshce and Dodge respectively attend these meetings, put their case forward, and plan for future participation.

    GT3’s are submitted for FIA homologation and take part in BoP tests, but SRO has no hold over such models. There’s nothing stopping non SRO series running such cars, or indeed the ACO adapting their own GTE regs to incorporate GT3 models, much like Grand-Am have done with the 458 and R8.

  12. @HD
    Then maybe sportscar racing isn’t for you. I’m not a massive GT fan, but a fan of Prototypes. Why should the ACO bother catoring for many GT cars. At Le Mans in the mid 80s, GT cars were phased out because their were enough prototypes to fill the field. In case you hadn’t noticed, the MPL2 field is pretty good, and getting better.

    And how many REAL GT cars have won Le Mans? None of the GT40s that won were GT cars yet. A Porsche 935 won Le Mans in ’79 but I’d say calling it a REAL GT car is pushing it. That goes for the Dauer 962 and Porsche GT1 too. So we are left with only 1, the MnLaren F1, so its only natural that you don’t much like Le Mans, if you don’t like Prototypes.

  13. All in all, there is a need to reduce all the currently existing formula, prototype and GT series to a “healthy” and not so much rivalizing status. Motorracing must regain a clear “face to the customer” – noone except us experts understands the variety of series any more.
    What is wrong about Le Mans and the Endurance World Championship running only with prototypes? If this is enough for a field of 40+ LMP1 and LMP2 cars at Le Mans, then why not?
    And then there could be in parallel an attractive GT world championship with a lot of different brands and the season highlight of the 24h of Spa, based on the current GT3 regulations and the Blancpain Endurance Series.
    Third part of the concept could be a touring car world championship that really deserves its name, based not on the ridiculous WTCC cars, but on the current DTM regulations.
    And nothing else (except of course national championships like ALMS, ADAC GT Masters or DTM, that would have to stick to the same technical regulations)….
    And please, dear FIA, reduce all the formulas to F1, F2, and F3 again…

  14. Yeah I’d imagine its very confusing to the average fan, and a bit tedius for us aswell. The “soft-core” motor racing fan wants to know what the top level series is, and they want the car that crosses the line first to be the winner. Having like 5 classes makes it very confusing. They know that F1 is the top level open wheeler, then Indycar and GP2, they know that the 3 NASCARS go nicely in order, and they know the WRC is the top of rallying. But what about Sportscars. World championship should be the default choice, and for protos I’d say it is, but what about GT? We have two rather disapointing world championships (3 if you count GTE-Am), and then the Blacpain series which is arguably more important than the world championships anyway. GT World needs to get their act together, and the WEC needs to be protos only. If that means only 15 cars in each class then so be it. If it means 3 classes then so be it. What would be good if local series were alowed to enter their protos as invitational cars. That way the fields would still be above 40, and it would help smaller national series out by exposing them to the world.

    As for GT, it is very clear that the Blacpain series is what the competators want. A world championship running GT3 regs with 4 hour races, and allowing competators from local series to compete as invitationals (most would be GT3 anyway) it would be good for everyone.

  15. disasterous !!! this track is near me, i dont have to go on camping or nothing, can drive to it in 1 or 1.5 hours , now cancelled , was checking for upcoming timetable for tomorrow and now i find out that its cancelled !!! just great , extreme bad luck for me …

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