Interview: WEC CEO Gerard Neveu on Sebring cancellation

Following the decision taken on Wednesday night by the FIA World Endurance Championship promoter to cancel its upcoming race in Sebring, we spoke to CEO Gerard Neveu in Florida to find out some more details about the decision

Interview: WEC CEO Gerard Neveu on Sebring cancellation

When did you make the decision to cancel the race?

"As you know we had been monitoring the situation closely but, as soon as President Trump made the announcement about the ban on flights from mainland Europe [9pm EST, 11 March 2020], we knew that we had little choice but to cancel immediately. So many members of our paddock come from within the Schengen zone that it would be impossible to hold the race without them. We acted quickly as so many team members - our own within the WEC and our competitors - were about to get on planes to come to Florida. We released the news as early as possible in Europe to give people warning to cancel or change plans."

Could you have made the decision earlier?

"Working in conjunction with IMSA and Sebring Raceway, and taking into consideration the advice from the World Health Organisation and US federal and state health authorities that we had on each day leading up to 11th March, it wasn't necessary to take this decision any earlier. We were going ahead. There were concerns, of course, especially regarding the situation in Italy which we were evaluating but, at 5pm yesterday, it was still possible at that time to race."

Will the race be run at a later date?

"With our season being run over two calendar years this option is more difficult for us than, say, IMSA which could feasibly postpone a race to later in the year. It's difficult to say more on this right now. At this point it probably doesn't need to be said but we are all desperately disappointed. SuperSebring was not just a hugely important event for sports car racing, as far as visibility in the USA and results are concerned, but on a personal level it was a favourite for almost everyone involved. We are facing a very challenging situation that is totally unprecedented and unpredictable, and one that is changing every day."

What happens to all the freight and infrastructure already in place?

"Our WEC logistics and sporting team were already on site in Florida for the set up. They, together with our logistics partner DHL Global Forwarding, will ensure that the freight is all safely packed up and shipped back to Europe. It is a huge job, but we have an excellent team working on this. I would like to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to the whole organisation team and the different suppliers involved in this very difficult situation who are working day and night to resolve matters. Very sincere thanks too to our partners from IMSA, all the WEC competitors for their full support in these unique and challenging circumstances."

What implications does this have for the WEC?

"Before answering this, our first and biggest concern is about the people affected by the virus, wherever they are. Firstly, we have to look after each other and stand together, supporting each other, to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Having said that, like so many other racing championships, companies and organisations, the commercial, sporting and human impact this will have for the future is considerable so we must work even harder to adapt, refine, renew or revitalise our championship. We are not saying that it will be easy, but this is what we have to do. In the short term, what we must remember, however, is that we are in the middle of a transitory situation - even if it is one without a definitive end. We must stay calm, take care of those we are closest to, and take each day's challenges as they come."

Will other races be cancelled?

"We are very, very aware that this is a rapidly changing situation, and one that none of us have faced before. Honestly, right now, we can't answer that question because it's not just our decision to take. We will keep you all informed as soon as possible. Of course, we will maintain our existing Covid-19 monitoring group and will continue to keep our paddock informed of any developments."

shares
comments
Sebring WEC round cancelled after US imposes Europe travel ban
Previous article

Sebring WEC round cancelled after US imposes Europe travel ban

Next article

No major delay for LMDh WEC rules despite Sebring cancellation

No major delay for LMDh WEC rules despite Sebring cancellation
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Plus

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Autosport hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022
The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory Plus

The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory

Peugeot went radical with the initial plan for its Le Mans Hypercar project, and then stuck to its guns. Here’s how things are shaping up a few weeks before the debut of the 9X8 in next month's Monza World Endurance Championship round

WEC
Jun 1, 2022
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Plus

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

WEC
May 9, 2022