The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, European Le Mans Series and Michelin have teamed up to announce a new support sportscar series - the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup - which will run alongside the ELMS in 2016.

The new series will see GT3 category cars contest alongside five rounds of the 2016 ELMS championship at Imola, Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet, Spa and Estoril. A unique sixth round has also been confirmed at the prestigious Le Mans in June to open the race weekend of the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In order to optimise the sporting programme of these GT3 cars, an agreement has been reached with the French FFSA GT Tour promotor with endurance staying with ELMS and sprint with GT Tour.

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The calendars of the two series have no clash in dates, which means the GT3 Teams will be able to enter both competitions, keeping the same car number and the same tyre manufacturer, due to the fact that Michelin will be the title sponsor of the new ACO series.

A bronze category driver will be required in each two-person crew with a race weekend consisting of two one-hour free practice sessions, one 30-minute qualifying session and a two-hour race.

President of the ACO, Pierre Fillon, feels the new series will become an integral part of the ELMS championship and be a strong asset to produce a access point between the GTE category and the pinnacle of 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"This new series is a logical step as part of the scheme adopted by the ACO for the development of endurance," Fillon said. "In addition to the WEC on the world stage, or the ELMS at European level, and the Asian Le Mans Series in Asia, with this new series the ACO adds another piece to its portfolio of competitions and strengthens its position as promoter of Championships and Endurance races.

"It will be for the best teams and drivers in GT3, a true gateway to access the GTE world and therefore to have the opportunity to join the family of the 24 hours of Le Mans. The ACO also welcomes the strong involvement of Michelin in this new series, strengthening further the links between the world-renowned French manufacturer and Le Mans."