WEC Moves Fuji Race to Avoid Alonso Clash with F1
How much clout can you have over racing organizations as a racing driver? Apparently, quite a lot—if your name is Fernando Alonso, for the sake of whom the 6 Hours of Fuji taking place in October 2018 has been pushed back by a week.
The Spaniard, who has been stealing headlines throughout the racing world for the past year, was recently announced as being part of Toyota’s new driver lineup for the 2018/19 World Endurance Championship super season.
His participation with Toyota is to be minimal: McLaren, for whom he races full-time in Formula One, says he will not be joining sponsorship or promotional events for the Japanese brand. In fact, he’ll be living the dream of every racing driver: show up, get in the car, race to the finish line, and leave.
Alonso would also be unable to race in the WEC whenever it conflicts with an F1 Grand Prix, something that would have only taken place once: during the 6 Hours of Fuji, which clashed with the United States Grand Prix.
As it happens, the powers that be are apparently quite keen on Alonso attending every WEC race…to the point that series organizers have confirmed the Fuji race is being moved back by a week, even though this makes it conflict with the Petit Le Mans IMSA finale, the Super GT Autopolis 300 km, and the DTM finale at Hockenheim.
Understandably, many people are upset—not least some of the drivers affected by the change. On the sum of it, however, the decision is not surprising. Toyota owns the Fuji circuit, WEC viewership has been struggling, and Alonso already proved last year, when he went to the Indy 500, that his mere presence at another racing series could lead to a huge surge in fans and viewership (and thus, money).
News Source: BBC