Renault Sport launches partnership with ELMS from 2016

Renault Sport and the European Le Mans Series have announced a three-year collaboration beginning in 2016

Renault Sport launches partnership with ELMS from 2016

The ELMS will share the bill with either the Formula Renault Eurocup or the GT-style Renault Sport Trophy at five of its six meetings next season.

The FR2.0 Eurocup, which boasts a 45-year history, will feature a showcase round in Monaco on its calendar, taking the slot previously occupied by the Formula Renault 3.5 series, which Renault will no longer promote in 2016.

Free tickets, a feature of World Series by Renault events since 2005, will continue at the meetings where Renault and the ELMS collaborate.

The ELMS will expand to six rounds with a date at Spa-Francorchamps next season.

The Belgian track, which is provisionally listed to host its round on September 25, joins the existing fixtures at Silverstone, Imola, the Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard and Estoril on the 2016 ELMS calendar.

Series boss Gerard Neveu stated that "the time was right" to grow the series and "Spa was the right place to do it".

"This is exactly what we said when we started this project three years ago [when his group took over the running of the ELMS for the 2013 season]," he told AUTOSPORT.

"We said we would add a race when we felt the championship could support it, and that time is now."

Neveu explained that the link-up with Renault had helped create the conditions for an expansion from five to six races.

The Eurocup will race with the ELMS at the Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard, Spa and Estoril, while the Renault Sport Trophy will also be in action at the Imola round in May.

"We have been in the ELMS events before," said Renault Sport director of competition Jean-Pascal Dauce.

"We have found a good agreement with them to try and build together a kind of World Series spirit from our side, and nice racing on their side, and together we will have meetings which also have free entrance."

Neveu was not able to answer questions about whether there will be a change in the ELMS sporting rules to go with the increases in track time across the season from 36 to 43 hours.

The rules, for example, allow each LMP2 car to use a single engine over the course of a season, but the extra mileage would make that marginal for next year.

There will be two rather than 20-minute qualifying sessions at each race next season, but Neveu refused to explain how the grid would be set for the races next season.

He said this would be announced at next month's series finale at Estoril.

The increased support package means that each event will be run over three days, with the exception of Silverstone's May season opener that will again run on the Saturday of the World Endurance Championship event.

2016 ELMS CALENDAR

April 15/16 Silverstone (GB)
May 13-15 Imola (I)
July 15-17 Red Bull Ring (A)
August 26-28 Paul Ricard (F)
September 23-25 Spa (B)
October 21-23 Estoril (P)

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