The announcement that the 2018 6 hours of Fuji has been moved from the 19-21 October to a week earlier (12-14 October) has caused widespread anger among the established sports car drivers and fans.
The move means a clash with the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship season finale, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta scheduled for that weekend.
This change has been caused by Toyota’s latest signing, Fernando Alonso being scheduled to take part in the United States GP that weekend, thus meaning he would miss Toyota’s home race in Fuji.
The Fuji circuit is owned by Toyota and the Japanese manufacturer put pressure on the WEC to move the date so their star driver could take part.
Ford GT factory driver, Oliver Pla responded angrily on Twitter to the news: “Many thanks @FIAWEC I can’t believe you did it… your lack of consideration and respect for the drivers who had a contract with a team in IMSA to race in NAEC the same weekend are unbelievable. I’m sure I will not be the only one to be impressed with what you did”
The sentiment shared by Oliver Pla is one shared by many, with drivers including Nicky Catsburg, Harry Ticknell, Mike Conway, Renger van der Zande and Augusto Farfus are among the drivers directly affected.
Fans of both IMSA and WEC have expressed their anger, with some have already made their travel arrangements for the previously-announced date for the Fuji race. Also, fans of IMSA hoping to see the stars from WEC make the trip out to Atlanta are unhappy about the change to the WEC date.
The date change will now mean that Fernando Alonso will compete in 27 race weekends this year, but this now draws increased friction between himself and his fellow drivers.