Motorsport's governing body took advantage of the Le Mans 24 Hours to reveal details of the proposed World Endurance Championship, which is due to kick off in 2012.
Jean-Claude Plassart, president of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, and FIA president Jean Todt made the presentation during the traditional ACO press conference as the 79th running of the 24 Hours got underway with practice and qualifying, confirming that the ACO would act as promoter after inking a three-year contract with the governing body. When that deal expires, a future contract will link the two parties for ten years.
The calendar of the current Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will form the basis of the 2012 season, with the ACO committed to integrating the Le Mans 24 Hours to make a seven-race schedule. Two events will take place on the American continent, two in Europe - in addition to Le Mans - and two in Asia, all of which must be of at least six hours duration. The French event, however, will remain the exclusive property of the ACO and will not be included in the agreement with the FIA, but the governing body will have the final say on the calendar, which it expects to be able to publish in the autumn.
Two titles, three trophies and a World Cup will be awarded, rewarding manufacturers and drivers with their own world endurance champion. The GTE Pro class will compete for the World Cup, with LM P2, FIA GTE Am and privateers all competing for their own trophy title. Points will be awarded in similar increments to other FIA World Championships, with the exception of Le Mans, which will award double points owing to its increased duration.
The championship will be governed by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's 2011-2013 technical and sporting regulations, under the responsibility of sports manager Vincent Beaumesnil, while the organisation of the series will be based on the current Intercontinental Le Mans Cup group, a branch of the ACO, headed by Frédéric Henry-Biabaud, the ILMC general manager. The ACO will also be responsible for marketing and communications operations.
Peugeot Sport's Olivier Quesnel also took advantage of the press call to present the ACO with a 908 HDi FAP, which will now reside in the 24 Hours museum.