The organisers of the FIA World Endurance Championship have announced that the opening round of the 2021 season will now take place at Portimão in Portugal, an amendment to the original schedule in which the first race of the championship was to take place at Sebring.
The decision was taken in light of the rapidly evolving situation involving the global pandemic, changing government directives and travel restrictions.
With the deadline for freight shipment fast approaching and with the majority of the teams based in Europe, the decision has been taken to remain within the continent for Round One.
“Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause issues worldwide and the decision to cancel Sebring and replace it with a race in Portimão was made following consultation with the FIA, IMSA and management at Sebring,” said the President of the ACO Pierre Fillon. “We are saddened not to see our American friends and can’t wait for the day when we can return to the USA to race alongside IMSA for Super Sebring.
“We remain focused on continuing to build our long-term relationship with both IMSA and Sebring International Raceway and the intention will be to return to Sebring in the future.”
FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille was pragmatic about the the possibility of schedule changes going into the new season.
“While calendar changes are certainly not ideal, going into 2021 we all understood that they can occur at some point over the course of the season,” said Richard Mille.
“For many reasons 2021 is an important year for endurance racing and the priority is to safeguard not only this season but also the longer-term future of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the best interest of all parties involved in mind, I’m looking forward to April’s curtain-raiser and beyond and I hope 2021 will be a good year for the sport.”
The 8 Hours of Portimão will take place on April 4.