When the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship shared the bill at “SuperSebring” in 2019, it was a smash hit with the record number of fans on site and tuning in to back-to-back endurance races beginning with the WEC’s season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday, followed by IMSA’s historic Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday.
After a two-year gap forced by the COVID pandemic, the fan-friendly event is back, and the intervening seasons have seen major changes for the WEC in particular.
So, bringing you up to speed, here are five reasons why you should follow the action that the WEC’s 2022 opener will bring to the unforgiving concrete of Sebring International Raceway, starting noon ET on Friday, March 18.
And for a deeper dive into the WEC, including live in-car action, download the official FIA World Endurance Championship App. Click here to find out more and grab the best seat in the house.
1. Hypercar hype
Sebring’s WEC opener is the very first time that the new generation of headliner prototypes, the Hypercars, will race in America.
The 2022 Hypercar class entry is headed by Toyota Gazoo Racing, the defending world champion bringing a pair of its GR010 Hybrid racers, along with a star-studded driver roster that features five WEC champions in its lineup.
Taking them on are the French Signatech Alpine team and the pride of the USA, New York-based Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus. The former’s A480 is the last of the LMP1 line with its old-school V8 grunt, while the latter’s SCG 007 LMH is a retro-styled beauty with a very 21st century turbo V8 power plant.
The cars should be very close on lap time, making speed through traffic a key factor as they battle over 1,000 miles and 268 scheduled laps of 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway.
2. LMP2’s got talent The LMP2 class is stacked with talent – in the driving seat and among the teams.
Returning champions WRT from Belgium, plus past winners United Autosports and Jota from the UK, are joined by a number of significant new additions, including the mighty Team Penske. The multiple championship-winning squad is making its WEC debut ahead of next year’s two-pronged WEC and IMSA attack with Porsche’s new LMDh prototype.
Penske’s LMP2 effort brings together newly-appointed Porsche factory drivers Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron, along with the evergreen Emmanuel Collard, the now Silver-rated Frenchman returning to Penske for the first time since their last adventures together with Porsche – the IMSA-contending RS Spyder from more than a decade ago.
Also new to the WEC’s LMP2 class is Italian “super team” Prema Orlen, which makes its endurance racing debut after a huge number of successes in junior open-wheel classes.
Prema Orlen’s blend of talent includes reigning European Le Mans Series Champions Robert Kubica and Louis Deletraz, two of more than 20 drivers in the LMP2 field who have major championship wins on their racing resumes.
Of those champions, it’s also the WEC debut for eight-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Ogier. The Frenchman joins the Richard Mille Racing team for 2022, adding yet more spice to the mix.
3. GTE Pro’s last hurrah
GTE Pro enters its final season with the addition of Corvette Racing to the full-season ranks.
Going in to 2022, there’s no shortage of racing needle after the controversial end to the ’21 GTE Pro season in Bahrain that saw Ferrari claim the world championship after late-race contact between the winning 488 GTE and its Porsche title rival.
With a galaxy of GT racing stars aboard, the all-pro grid has always provided astonishingly close racing, and 2022 is set for more of the same, with the established order to be challenged to the very end by long-time 24 Hours of Le Mans contender Corvette, which now joins in for the full season with a single C8.R for the rapid pairing of Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner.
The American ’Vette will be on home ground at Sebring, but both Ferrari and Porsche have two cars in the fight, so place your bets and watch all of the action unfold.
4. Iron Dames look to break through
The GTE Am class is 13 cars strong, but you won’t have to look too hard to spot the all-female-crewed Iron Dames Ferrari.
The No. 85 488 GTE has a new – and very, very pink – livery for the new season and it’s ready to get noticed in more ways than one. The Iron Dames have been knocking on the door of class wins for the past two seasons, and this could be the year they finally make the breakthrough, with a well-drilled crew both in the car and on pit lane.
It’s an effort that has turned heads for all of the right reasons, with team founder Deborah Mayer replacing rallying legend Michele Mouton at the helm of the FIA’s increasingly active and influential Women in Motorsport Commission at the end of 2021.
With talent galore in the class, including ex-Formula 1 and world championship-winning drivers, GTE Am is a tough nut to crack. But if the Iron Dames lineup of Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy manage it at Sebring, it will make headlines around the world.
5. You can ride along with the WEC app
It’s easier than ever to follow all of the action, with the official FIA World Endurance Championship App bringing what fans want directly to their iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Many great features are available free, including news, results, track information and team and driver profiles, plus live timing, pictures and video.
Want more? Then check out the Premium Season Pack available as an In-App purchase and get fully immersed in the WEC experience. There’s full live coverage of every race and qualifying session, enhanced timing, and selectable in-car cameras during the whole race.
You can be your own TV director, choosing your favorite team to follow on camera, with enhanced live timing and insight from the WEC’s world-class commentary team, bolstered this year by the addition of ex-F1 racer and 2014 WEC drivers’ champ Anthony Davidson, as well as exclusive features only available to app subscribers.
You really don’t want to miss a single moment of it, so click here and get ready for an FIA World Endurance Championship season to remember.