The new year is upon us and there is plenty to look forward to in the 2022 FIA WEC season. Here are some of the highlights of the year ahead.
It is assumed that the coronavirus pandemic will no longer have any major impact on the FIA WEC this year – admittedly more out of blind hope and apathy with three two long years of the pandemic, than on the basis of any scientific fact. With that in mind, here are some of the highlights that await us in 2022.
Back in the USA
The FIA World Endurance Championship is scheduled to return to Sebring International Raceway – subject to the now seemingly ubiquitous Covid-19 caveat – for the first time since 2019. The 1000 Miles of Sebring will take place as part of the 12 Hours of Sebring IMSA weekend, as it did three years ago.
Familiar faces in familiar places
The remainder of the calendar has returned to at least some semblance of normality after two Covid-affected years. The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps remains in its customary early-May date. Significant works are currently being carried out at the circuit following catastrophic flooding in August 2021.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held in June again for the first time since 2019. The 6 Hours of Monza remains on the calendar, while the two flyaways in the autumn will see the FIA WEC visit Japan and Bahrain.
- Official Prologue (Sebring) – 12/13 March
- 1000 Miles of Sebring – 18 March
- 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – 7 May
- 24 Hours of Le Mans – 11/12 June
- 6 Hours of Monza – 10 July
- 6 Hours of Fuji – 11 September
- 8 Hours of Bahrain – 12 November
A new player enters the game
The Le Mans Hypercar era made a somewhat inauspicious start in 2021, but the real riches lie ahead with the addition of numerous manufacturers. The first of these is Peugeot, which is scheduled to launch its 2022 WEC challenger, the 9X8, at some point this season.
The French manufacturer completed a shakedown of the car in December and is expected to complete an extensive programme of testing before confirming the final homologation. At the time of writing the car is expected to compete in the 2022 WEC at some point, but it remains to be seen when that debut will come.
New name for ByKolles?
One intrepid Reddit user in the WEC community made an interesting discovery towards the end of last year. PMC GmbH, an associated company of the Greding-based team that previously competed as ByKolles, has registered a trademark for the name Vanwall.
Vanwall was a pioneering part of Formula 1 in the 1950s, winning nine races and one constructors’ championship (in 1958). It never competed in sportscar racing, neither in its original guise nor since.
The team has confirmed that it will be building a LMH car but has yet to reveal any further details about the car. Tom Dillman and Argentine Esteban Guerrieri have been confirmed as test and development drivers.
LMDh in the starting blocks
The first of the new LMDh machines is set to turn a wheel in the early part of the year. Porsche has confirmed that it will begin testing its new car ready for dual WEC and IMSA programmes in 2023.
Audi’s programme is also taking shape, with Rene Rast and Nico Mueller both confirmed as factory drivers for the German manufacturer’s two-car effort for the 2023 WEC.
Final year of GTE Pro
The 2022 WEC season will be the final year of competition for the GTE Pro class. Ferrari and Porsche will be joined in the final season by Corvette racing, with the US manufacturer entering a full-works Corvette C8.R for the entire season.
Image © WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk)