Portimão to receive first race of World Endurance Championship

The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, in Portimão, will receive the first race of the World Endurance Championship of the International Automobile Federation (WEC), replacing the 1000 Miles of Sebring, on the weekend of April 2-4.

The Algarve International Circuit in Portimão, Portugal, will replace the 1000 Miles of Sebring as the season-opener for this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the WEC’s official website.

“Over the past few months we have seen that the pandemic is extremely unpredictable and after several discussions with key parties, the decision was made for the beginning of the season to remain in Europe where most of our teams are based,” Frédéric Lequien, CEO of WEC, said.

“The consequences of a last-minute cancellation would have economic implications for the entire WEC family, so we took a responsible decision. Portimão has provided some extremely close racing in ELMS and has excellent facilities, we are very much looking forward to getting our new season underway with an 8 hour race there in April,” he added.

Portimão will also host the official pre-season test, which was also scheduled for Sebring, on 30 and 31 March. “Constructed in 2008, Portimão has been used to host a round of the European Le Mans Series [ELMS] since 2017 and provides a mix of fast and slow-speed corners, as well as dramatic gradient changes,” according to the WEC.

The rest of the WEC calendar remains unchanged, with the three events after Portimão taking place in Europe: Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium; Le Mans, in France and Monza in Italy.  The championship is set to return to Japan on September 26, and the season ends in Bahrain on 20 November.