Marie-Pierre Dupasquier caught up with ELMS CEO Gérard Neveu to ask him few questions about the 2015 season so far.
1) The race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria was the third round of the 2015 season and marked the halfway point of the series. What are your feelings on the three European Le Mans Series seasons under the responsibility of Le Mans Endurance Management?
“The European Le Mans Series has continued to grow and evolve and in 2015 we welcome some of the top teams and drivers from across the world to compete on five of the top circuits in Europe. The quality of the ELMS grid in Austria produced some great entertainment for the 12000 spectators who travelled to the Red Bull Ring.
“Over the past three seasons we have had to adapt what we offer our customers, the teams and the drivers. We offer them the best endurance racing package available in European motorsport. For the gentlemen drivers the two day events are popular because it means they are not taking the minimum amount of time away from their businesses while the ELMS is high profile for the professional racing driver who is looking to progress up the sportscar career ladder. This has happened with Brendon Hartley, who is now with Porsche, and Harry Tincknell, who is a Nissan works driver. The move to 4-hour races has also proved to be popular with the teams and we will continue to adapt and evolve what we offer in the ELMS to keep the teams and drivers wanting to race with us.”
2) At the 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring the ELMS was joined by two additional series, Formula Renault 3.5 and the new TCR International Series. Spectators in Austria experienced a true festival of motorsport with endurance, single seaters and touring cars. Is this mix of series something that you would like to see more of in 2016?
“The European Le Mans Series not only provides a great stage for the teams and drivers to compete on, it is also about providing the best entertainment for the visitors at each event. In April ELMS raced alongside the World Endurance Championship and the FIA Euro F3 Championship at Silverstone and we are always looking for opportunities to provide a greater level of racing entertainment when it is possible to do so. But it is all about calendars and matching the needs for each of the series.
Last weekend in Austria we were very happy to welcome the TCR International Series in addition to the already well established Formula Renault 3.5. The inclusion of this world class touring car series, alongside the Formula Renault 3.5 series, to the schedule meant that we had three leading championships from three motorsport disciplines – endurance, touring cars and single seaters.
The event at the Red Bull Ring was a great celebration of motorsport and it is something we would like to repeat whenever possible.”
3) The Red Bull Ring was a free event for all spectators. Why was this?
“The 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring is a great event set in the foot hills of the beautiful Styrian Alps. ELMS is a series primarily for the teams and drivers but the racing action they provide is great entertainment for the spectators. By offering all visitors free access to an ELMS event we know that it will attract many people, with their family, to watch some great racing. This is not a new idea for the ELMS, we have been doing this at many of our events since 2013. At the last race in Italy we had thousands of fans in the grandstands, which is good for the competitors, our partners and it looks great on the live TV coverage. Everyone’s a winner!”
4) The next race is in France on the 5/6 September at the Circuit Paul Ricard, a track you know very well, before the season finale in Portugal on the 17/18 October. This is the same schedule as last season. Why is it important to keep the same circuits at the same time of the year?
“By keeping the races at the same circuit at roughly the same time of year it makes it easier to build the ELMS brand in each country we visit. People will come to one of events, hopefully have a great time and want to come back the following year. They will talk to their friends and family and so we build awareness of the event through our fans. We use the same policy in the World Endurance Championship to great effect. ”
5) So is there room for new circuits to be added to the ELMS calendar.
“We always keep our options open and we are always willing to consider other venues. However we have to be mindful that to add another event increases the budget to go racing. At the moment we are extremely happy with the mix of tracks we currently visit and any change to the schedule will only be done if we have a great opportunity to provide a real add value for the ELMS Paddock. ”
6) When will the 2016 ELMS calendar be announced?
“We will be making an announcement in September, as we have in previous years.”