The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) have released the 2011 calendars for the Le Mans Series, with a new track on the itinerary and a new race format for the championship.
The calendar consists of five races across Europe with the series being launched with a pair of test days at the Le Castellet circuit in southern France on March 11-12. The racing season also begins at the Paul Ricard circuit. However, after hosting an eight hour race last season the race is cut back to six hours – the format shared by all five races, marking a shift from the 1000km distance the LMS previously favoured.
The series then moves to Spa-Francorchamps for the race which has become the dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours in recent years. The Belgian race will also be the first of three races the LMS shares with the expanded Le Mans Intercontinental Cup which now takes in seven races worldwide.
Also included in the ILMC's plans is the Le Mans Series' first visit to Imola in July and Silverstone – in its normal early September date.
The season ends with an event in Portugal on September 23-25, though the host circuit is still to be confirmed after two years of the championship racing at Portimao.
The season will also be the first year of the LMS without the LMGT1 category, replaced by a pair of classes – LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am formed from the LMGT2 class. The ACO's press release also promises greater visibility of the races and improved broadcasting.
2011 Le Mans Series calendar
March 11-12 – Official Test Days, Paul Ricard HTTT
April 1-3 – 6 Hours of Castellet
May 6-8 – 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
July 1-3 – 6 Hours of Imola
September 9-11 – 6 Hours of Silverstone
September 23-15 – 6 Hour Portuguese race – circuit to be confirmed