The European Le Mans Series launched the 2016 Calendar this afternoon at a Press Conference here at Paul Ricard. Gérard Neveu, European Le Mans Series CEO, announced a six race calendar plus beginning as usual with the “The Prologue”, the official two day pre-season test, on March 29 and 30 although a venue is yet to be announced.
Silverstone in the UK will host the first race of the season on Saturday 16 April and the 4 Hours race will once again join the World Endurance Championship offering the race fans a fantastic festival of racing.
Round 2 moves to Imola for the now traditional mid-May visit to the Italian circuit. After Le Mans, Round 3 will take place in Austria at the Red Bull Ring and the race at the Circuit Paul Ricard moves to the end of August, so remember to grab your sunblock.
The series returns to Belgian circuit Spa-Francorchamps for the first time since 2011 with the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps becoming the newest entry on the calendar. The 2016 season will conclude in Portugal as Estoril will once again host the season finale on Sunday 23 October.
In addition to extra races the format will change to a three-day event from 2016 with Free Practice 1 (90 mins) running Friday afternoons, FP2 (90 mins) on Saturday morning and two 20 minute qualifying sessions taking place on the Saturday afternoon. Sunday, as usual, remains race day (with the exception of Silverstone) and the events remain set at 4 hours.
“The 2016 calendar represents the next step in the growth of the European Le Mans Series.” said President of Automobile Club de l’Ouest, Pierre Fillon. “The 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is an important addition to the ELMS, while the five other races, held on the same tracks at the same time of year, are well established and growing in popularity.”
Renault are set to become partners with the ELMS from 2016 hosting the support races for the series. Formula Renalut 2.0 will support the Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet, Spa Francorchamps and the season finale at Estoril while the Renault Sport R.S. 01 Trophy offers support for Imola as well as the Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet, Spa Francorchamps & Estoril rounds.
“We are very happy to welcome the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and RS01 Renault Sport Trophy and our thanks go to Renault Sport Technologies for their full support.” added Gérard Neveu. “The addition of these two high profile single seater and GT race series will enhance the popularity of the ELMS weekends and give the fans two more reasons to join us for an exciting 2016 season.”