FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu has defended the decision to change the date for October's 6 Hours of Fuji race to ensure Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso can enter despite facing backlash from a number of sports car drivers.

Two-time F1 world champion Alonso signed a deal to race for Toyota in the WEC this year as part of his bid to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, planning a wider campaign around his McLaren commitments.

Alonso had been due to miss the race at Fuji Speedway due to a clash with the United States Grand Prix on October 21, only for WEC officials to reveal last week that the Fuji date had been brought forward one week to October 14, ensuring he can take part.

However, the move has now created a clash with the IMSA season finale, Petit Le Mans, leaving a number of sports car drivers facing a dilemma between which race to enter, as well the planned Super GT round at Autopolis.

Ford's Olivier Pla called out WEC for a "lack of consideration", while Alonso's former F1 teammate, Jenson Button, said it was a "shame" the decision would hurt the fanbases of all series.

"We work always to protect the interests of the championship. This is first and foremost what we took into consideration,” Neveu said, as quoted by Sportscar365.

“How could we have someone like Fernando Alonso in our paddock, racing for Toyota, and say we are going to Japan without him in their car? 

“For Japanese fans, to respect what Toyota is doing, and for the championship as well - Alonso is racing for a world championship and to win that he can’t miss a race. 

“It was logical and if you ask the Japanese fans, they are very happy.”

Neveu added he hoped to work with IMSA officials to try and shift the date for Petit Le Mans, but such a move has been ruled out by the North American sports car series.

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