Despite some teams not being happy about the date of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue, series boss Gerard Neveu has stated the date cannot be moved any closer to the start of the new season.
The date of next season’s prologue, to be held at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, was confirmed as the 24/25 July just before the new year begun. This places the test in the middle of the ten-week summer break the teams have, giving them just five weeks to homologate their 2019/20 challengers.
Some teams have expressed concerns that this will place unnecessary pressure on them to get their cars ready, but Neveu has made it clear that the date of the test cannot be pushed back any closer to the start on the season on 1st September.
“We need to do it because there are many things we need to check, like the marshalling and safety systems, and there is also a strong marketing need,” Neveu explained to Autosport. “If we have the test three weeks before the first race then there is no time to react and we would also get complaints that we have scheduled a test in the August holiday period.”
The Prologue confirmation has also sparked confusion amount teams, who believe they were told there would be no official pre-season test for the 2019/20 season due to the fact that turn around from the 2018/19 season would be tight. A public announcement from WEC at the time of announcing the 2019/20 calendar confirms this was suggested, with the statement indicating a “mini-Prologue” would be more likely in the week before the 4 Hours of Silverstone. However, Neveu denied that this was ever the plan.
“We never said that there was not going to be one, only that there would not be a test next April [in the middle of the 2018/19 superseason] when the prologue normally takes place,” he said, when asked about this.
“The teams told us they wanted a test between the end of the old and the start of the new seasons – that was a strong request.”
Teams are also not happy with this date as it falls in the week leading up to the Spa 24 Hours. As it stands, teams partaking in the WEC Prologue would have to miss the first day of practice for the Spa 24 Hours, which clashes with the second day of the WEC test.
Neveu made it clear that this was not supposed to be a clash nor was it intended to be a clash, as the WEC Prologue would be finished before the race that starts on Saturday 27th July. He is, nonetheless, willing to move the Prologue back one day (to run Wednesday 23-Thursday 24) to avoid any clashes for teams competing in both events.
As the European Le Mans Series has its Barcelona round at the Circuit de Catalunya on the 19/20 July, it makes sense for the Prologue to run after this as all of the ACO key staff and equipment will already be in place.