Imola out, Monza in as ELMS makes changes to 2017 calendar

The calendar for the 2017 European Le Mans Series has been announced, with the 4 Hours of Imola being replaced by a round at Monza.

The number of races remains constant at six – plus the pre-season test weekend – in a bid to create stability for the series and teams by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.

Another notable change involves the Portuguese finale, which will move from its familiar home at Estoril near Lisbon to the Portimao circuit in the south of the country.

The pre-season Prologue, which was previously held at Paul Ricard in France, will move to Monza.

“The 2017 calendar offers competitors and fans the very best opportunity to be part of what has rapidly become Europe’s leading endurance series”, said ACO president Pierre Fillon.

“The stability of maintaining six rounds, with races of four-hours in length, at well-established and prestigious tracks, can only increase the popularity of these events.”

Silverstone is once again the venue for the opening race, sharing the April 14-15 weekend with the World Endurance Championship.

Monza arrives on the calendar for round two, marking the ACO’s first visit to Italy’s national circuit since the 2008 Le Mans Series.

A mid-July date at the Red Bull Ring will signal the first race after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while Paul Ricard is penciled in for late August.

Spa-Francorchamps retains its place on the schedule in September, before the final round at Portimao on October 20-22.

“Among the many well-known European motorsport venues, there are some which speak for themselves through their tradition and history,” added Gerard Neveu, CEO of the ELMS.

“As well as Silverstone and Spa we now have Monza which has a long history in endurance racing. We very much look forward to going there in 2017, just as we also look forward to creating new traditions and history at more modern venues such as Portimão in the sunny Algarve area where we will close the season.”

2017 European Le Mans Series calendar

28/29 March         ELMS official test at Monza    (Italy)

15 April                 4 Hours of Silverstone            (UK)

14 May                  4 Hours of Monza                    (Italy)

23 July                 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring        (Austria)

27 August           4 Hours of Le Castellet            (France)

24 September  4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)

22 October       4 Hours of Portimão                   (Portugal)