WEC set to introduce new qualifying format for 2021

The World Endurance Championship is planning to introduce a new qualifying format for next season for all events barring the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Series bosses have revealed that they are already working together with the FIA Endurance Commission on a procedure to replace the current system based on the aggregate of the fastest times set by two drivers.

The new qualifying format will be in place for all WEC races with the exception of the Le Mans centre-piece round, which will continue with the new Hyperpole format introduced for the 2020 edition of the race last weekend.

Pierre Fillon, president of WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, said: “It will not be Hyperpole, but we will modify the format.”

Outgoing WEC boss Gerard Neveu, who has announced he is stepping down from his role at the end of the year, revealed that the Endurance Commission had taken the decision to look into qualifying during the week prior to Le Mans.

“There is a working group investigating what is the best format,” he explained.

“Something attractive, spectacular is clearly on the table now.”

Asked if there was dissatisfaction with the current system, he said: “We feel we can do better.

“Our job, if there is a way, is to provide more attraction, entertainment — that is what we are looking for.”

Aggregate qualifying based on the times of two drivers was introduced for the second year of the born-again WEC in 2013.

The qualifying mark for each car was initially calculated on the average of four laps, two set by each of a pair of drivers.

This was was subsequently modified for 2015 when the current system based on a single lap by each driver was introduced.

Fillon confirmed that the new Hyperpole format will be in place when Le Mans reverts to its original mid-June slot on the 2021 calendar announced last week.

Asked if there was a desire to continue with it, he said: “Yes, I think everybody enjoyed this kind of qualification.

“It is spectacular, it is good for TV and it is good for spectators – not this year, but next year [a reference to the absence of fans in 2020].”

Hyperpole, which was widely praised by teams and drivers last week, pitches the fastest six cars in each of the WEC classes during an opening 45-minute period against each other in a final, half-hour round of qualifying.

The first session took place on Thursday afternoon and Hyperpole late on Friday morning on this year’s condensed Le Mans timetable.

It was originally planned that Hyperpole, which was announced last year, would take place at 9pm on Thursday evening after an opening session leading up to midnight on Wednesday.

This year’s timetable for Le Mans was condensed after the rescheduling of the race from June as a result of the world health crisis.

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