WEC defends under-fire 2019/20 pre-season prologue test plan

World Endurance Championship boss Gerard Neveu has described the pre-season 'prologue' test as "absolutely necessary" after its confirmation ahead of the 2019/20 season drew criticism from teams

WEC defends under-fire 2019/20 pre-season prologue test plan

Neveu said the official test announced for Barcelona on July 24/25, just five weeks after the 2018/19 WEC season finale at Le Mans, was important to allow the FIA and series promoter the Automobile Club de l'Ouest to check the cars, particularly those of new entrants.

"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 told Autosport.

He explained that holding the test closer to the 2019/20 WEC opener at Silverstone on September 1 would not make sense.

"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," he said.

But multiple teams argued that a mandatory test so soon after the Le Mans 24 Hours will create unnecessary pressures.

TDS Racing technical director Jacques Morello said: "We think that the schedule is now becoming impossible - it will be really hard for the team and the mechanics."

Rebellion Racing team principal Bart Hayden agreed that having the prologue in the middle of the 10-week gap between seasons would "make life difficult for everybody".

Hayden was among those to express surprise at the announcement of the prologue late last week, saying teams had been told there would not be a traditional-style test ahead of the first WEC season run to the 'winter-series' format.

This was in line with more public statements from the WEC suggesting that there could be a kind of mini-prologue in the week before Silverstone, but Neveu denied this.

"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.

"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."

The dates of the prologue in the week of the Spa 24 Hours have also been criticised by those teams with an involvement in the Blancpain GT Series or drivers competing in it.

But Neveu insisted that it did not represent a clash, even though free practice for Spa starts on the Thursday, the second day of the prologue.

"A test on Wednesday and Thursday is not a clash with a race the following weekend - the Spa 24 Hours begins on Saturday," he said.

He conceded that he is willing to try to bring the prologue forward by one day so that it finishes on the Wednesday.

The prologue follows on from the previous weekend's Barcelona round of the European Le Mans Series run by the ACO.

This means that key staff and equipment will already be in place.

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