As the circuit gradually emptied on Saturday evening, members of the international media stayed behind to spend time with Pierre Fillon and Gérard Neveu in a small office next to the press room.
“It’s nice to be with you this evening here in Shanghai ahead of the last race of the season,” began Gérard Neveu. “If we compare the situation today with that on January 15 when we learnt that Peugeot had withdrawn, we can’t complain. We’ve got 28 cars on the grid, we’ve had some great fights between Audi and Toyota, as well as in LMGTE. Most of the races were successful, including Sebring and Le Mans, of course. But spectator numbers at Spa were a little disappointing, no doubt because of the poor weather.”
“With an attendance of 35,000 spectators, Silverstone was a pleasant surprise, and Brazil was an interesting experience; Emerson Fittipaldi did an extraordinary job promoting the race. I would maybe rank Fuji as the second-best race of the year; it was very representative of the famous ‘Spirit of Le Mans’. Bahrain will never attract big crowds, but we know why the WEC goes there… Last but not least, there’s this weekend’s visit to China. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. The quality of the hospitality suites is very impressive and there are 300 accredited journalists, including 250 from China. We need to give this race a little time.
“It’s important to stay humble. There’s still a long way to go, but the first year of the championship has gone well. You can liken the series to a new-born child. In 2013, its will learn to walk and grow. Our aim now is to improve the WEC’s visibility.”
Pierre Fillon, who was named president of the ACO during the year, added: “We had 28 entries this year and, despite legitimate concerns, they stayed with us all season. That’s more than the 26 cars we had been expecting. Given the economic situation and the fact that there will be new regulations from 2014, we need to be realistic, however: next year will be a transitional year. We would like 32 or 33 entries for the entire season, plus a few ‘wild card’ entries at certain races. We will improve some areas, like working with all the manufacturers to reduce the gap between the privateer and factory LMP1 cars. There won’t be any changes in the LMP2 or LMGTE classes in the near future (two years), though, despite the rumours. That said, a working group will take a look at the GT issue and make recommendations in the coming months.”
“We would also like to reduce the logistics-related costs for the teams in 2013. Arranging bigger gaps between the overseas races and organising them together in the same geographic region would allow us to send equipment by ship. That would achieve big savings,” observed Gérard Neveu. “At the same time, we are talking to organisers in countries like Russia, for example, but the number of rounds won’t change for the moment.”