Fuji WEC round cancelled, Bahrain becomes double-header

The FIA World Endurance Championship has cancelled its Fuji round for a second year in a row, replacing it with a second fixture in Bahrain.

Fuji WEC round cancelled, Bahrain becomes double-header

Japan's ongoing travel restrictions amid the global health crisis ultimately made the Fuji race, scheduled for September 26, untenable.

Instead, the WEC will now visit Bahrain for a double-header after a two-month break following the Le Mans 24 Hours, with two races in successive weekends pencilled in for October 30 and November 6.

The first of the two races in Bahrain will be a six-hour event, while the existing eight-hour season finale originally set for November 20 has been brought forward by two weeks.

WEC boss Frederic Lequien said: "Regrettably we have been left with no choice but to cancel our Japanese leg of the world championship due to continuing difficulties with the pandemic, including travel restrictions and logistical issues. 

"We have instead decided to replace Fuji with another race in Bahrain, which we firmly believe is the safest option for everyone."

He added that he is "confident that a double-header in Bahrain is an ideal solution in the current climate". 

The announcement of the double-header on Wednesday follows comments from Lequien at last month's Portimao 8 Hours WEC round that any new fixture in the event of Fuji being cancelled would likely be in Europe.

Both Lequien and Pierre Fillon, president of WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, thanked the Fuji circuit for its efforts to save the race. 

There is an intent for the WEC to return to the Japanese track in the future, Lequien stressed.  

Bahrain International Circuit chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa said: “It is a great pleasure for us to be able to host two rounds of WEC. 

"Over the last few months, we have demonstrated our ability to host several major international events in a safe manner and we thank WEC for showing their faith in us yet again.”

Bahrain hosted back-to-back grands prix at the end of last season after major revisions to the Formula 1 calendar, and it is a candidate to host another additional race this year in the light of uncertainty over further F1 rounds in the wake of this week's cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.

The Japanese GP at Suzuka scheduled for October 10 is among the races in doubt. MotoGP has already cancelled its Motegi fixture set for October 3.

The WEC's first Bahrain race is now clashing with Super Formula's season finale at Suzuka, which means Toyota drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima will be forced to miss the latter unless there are further changes to the schedule for either series.

However, the cancellation of the Fuji WEC race alleviates a schedule clash with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's Long Beach round that was set to affect a number of drivers.

Revised 2021 WEC schedule:

Date Venue/Race
May 1  6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
June 13 Portugal 8 Hours of Portimao
July 18 Italy 6 Hours of Monza
August 21-22  24 Hours of Le Mans
October 30  6 Hours of Bahrain
November 6  8 Hours of Bahrain
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