World Endurance Championship
From 2012, the ACO/FIA World Endurance Championship is the top of the Endurance pyramid. It is made up of nine events over four continents: eight 6-hour races on prestigious circuits, and the highlight – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is open to two big categories, the sport-prototypes, LM P1 and LM P2, and the GT cars, LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am. The LM P1 category may be the main category, but the LM P2 field grows bigger and stronger each year.
24 Hours of Le Mans
Born in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the ultimate endurance race. It's among the nine events of the World Championship and also accepts one-off entries, namely from the winning teams in the European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series who get an invitation. It includes the same categories as the World Championship – LM P1, LM P2, LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am.
Michelin Le Mans Cup
Originally the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, the Michelin Le Mans Cup is open to GT3 and LM P3 cars. It has six two-hour rounds. Five are support races for the European Le Mans Series. Road to Le Mans, a two-hour race on the legendary circuit of the 24 Hour of Le Mans is the curtain-raiser for the Le Mans event.
ROAD TO LE MANS
As a curtain raiser for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Road to Le Mans, a two-hour event, allows the LM P3 teams to familiarise themselves with the famous circuit. This race is one of the rounds of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, but can accept one-off entries.
European Le Mans Series
The European Le Mans Series followed the Le Mans Series in 2012, the year where the LM P2 became the premier class. This category shares the track with LM GTE, and since 2015 it is also open to LM P3 cars. It has six 4-hour events on the most beautiful tracks in Europe and is often viewed by teams as an essential step before competing in the World Championship.
IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship
This prestigious American championship has 4 categories of cars. The premier category is called “Prototypes” which includes LM P2, old and new generations, and DPi, prototypes that are typically American and created in 2017. The GT are divided into two classes, the GT LM and GT D. The small PC prototypes have a separate category. The Championship has a dozen dates on very different tracks and races of unequal length. Ten are open to the ‘Prototypes' category. Four of the most famous races, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, make up the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, a championship at the heart of the championship.
IMSA PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE BY MAZDA
This new American series run by IMSA is open to the LM P3 category and to the Mazda Lites. The competitors are divided into two classes, PC1 for the LM P3 and PC2 for the Élan DP02 chassis with a Mazda engine, which corresponds to the Lites 1 of the old series, the Mazda Prototypes Lites Presented by Cooper Tires. The calendar of this first edition has seven dates, spread out over the most important circuits in North America from mid-March to early October. Most of the rounds include two 45 minute races. Five of these events run during the WeatherTech SportsCars Championship weekends.
Asian Le Mans Series
The series was launched in 2013 by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest. It's the incarnation of “Le Mans” type endurance races, adapted for the Asian continent. It regroups five rounds of 4-hour races from October to January, in China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. It includes five categories – LM P2, LM P3, GT, GT Cup and CN. The winners of the LM P2, LM P3 and GT categories receive an invitation to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans the following year.
Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup
To promote sport-prototypes races in Asia, namely in LM P3, and to create a ladder towards the Asian Le Mans Series, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest launched the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup in 2016. From May to September, three rounds, four from 2017, with two races of an hour each, run on the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Each race welcomes three categories of cars, LM P3, GT Cup and CN. The winning team of each category wins an entry for the Asian Le Mans Series.
FRD LM P3 SERIES
In 2017, the FRD LM P3 Series complete the Asian offer for sport-prototypes. From May to September, five rounds of 60 minutes follow each other, four in China and one in Malaysia. Founded by Kenneth Ma and supported by the ACO, this authentic series is also a spring-board for the Asian Le Mans Series. A Ligier JS P2 is put on offer by Onroak Automotive for the winning team so that they can take part in the 2017/2018 Asian Le Mans Series. The entry fee is covered by the organiser. The team finishing second will be loaned a Ligier JS P3 for the same series. It inaugurates an original format. Each team enters two LM P3. Each crew has a professional international driver as well as a Chinese driver.
V de V Endurance Series
The V de V Endurance Series has been attracting a great number of competitors for years by reuniting GT, Proto, VHC, single seaters and Funyo at the heart of several platforms on different European circuits over seven yearly events. The Endurance Proto Challenge platform, contested over four, six or twelve-hour races, welcomes models of the CN and C3 groups. The GT Tourism LMP3 Challenge platform lines up LM P2, LM P3 and LM PC (Formula Le Mans) as well as the PFV category (closed V de V Prototype) for the sole Ginetta G57, alongside GT cars, for races of four or six hours.
Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship
This brand new British series, the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship, is reserved for LMP3 cars. It opens the door to high-level endurance races for sport-prototypes, leading to racing at an international level. It's organised by Bute Motorsport and has been approved by the ACO. Pirelli is the tyre partner. The calendar has six events with two one-hour races each, from the end of April to mid-September in 2017, on three of the greatest Grand Prix tracks in the UK, Snetterton, as well as one trip to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Two drivers, one of which at least must be from the bronze “amateur” category, will share the wheel. The winner of the championship will get an entry into the 2018 Le Mans Cup series, organised by the ACO.
24 Hours proto series
In 2017, a new series of endurance races reserved for sport-prototypes was launched by the Dutch company CREVENTIC and approved by the ACO. The four 12-hour events on attractive European circuits are aimed at five categories of car: LM P3, Ginetta G57, RDC (Radical), PX (special prototypes) and CN. The series starts at Magny Cours on the 22nd of April and ends in Spa-Francorchamps on the 8th of October. Only one gold or platinum driver is accepted per car. In January, as a preview of the series, three three-hour races are offered to the sport-prototypes as an opening event for the 24 Hours of Dubai from the 24 Hour Series powered by Hankook.
GT and Prototype Challenge powered by Hankook
A new official series has been launched in the Benelux in 2017 by V-Max Racing Management B.V., whose founder, Dick Van Elk, is also behind the International Dutch Supercar Challenge. Hankook is the tyre partner. Eligible GT cars and open and closed sport-prototypes are spread over four groups: GT (essentially GT3 cars), the new closed P3 sport-prototypes, including the Ligier JS P3, the CN designed from 2014 onwards, including the Ligier JS 53 EVO2 as well as the Radical SR8. The last group welcomes, amongst others, older CN models. From the 21st of May to the 1st of October, six events of two 60-minute races will take place at the circuits of Zandvoort, Assen, Zolder and Spa-Francorchamps. Four of these events will share the weekend with the Supercar Challenge.
CAMPIONATO ITALIANO SPORT PROTOTIPI
The Campionato Italiano Sport Prototipi is a national Italian championship under the umbrella of the ACI Sportitalia, the Italian Automobile Club. It runs over seven rounds of two races of 45-minute and a lap, from May to October, on famous Italian circuits, namely Monza, Imola, Mugello and Vallelunga. It runs on the same weekends as other championships, most often with the Campionato Italiano Gran Turismo. Different sport-prototypes such as the LM P3, CN or Radical take part in this championship.
3 ORE ENDURANCE CHAMPIONS CUP
The ECC is an Italian series, open to several categories, GT, touring and sport-prototype, including CN and LM P3, accepting two or three drivers. It takes place during the race weekends of Groupe Peroni Race, who are the promoter, on Italian circuits, apart from one race at Brno in the Czech Republic. It is spread out over four three-hour events and one of 6 hours.
SA ENDURANCE SERIES
From 2013, endurance races have been running in South Africa. From 2017, the SA Endurance Series, recognised by the MSA, Motorsport South Africa, regroups different types of cars – series-produced cars, ‘saloon cars', GT or CN – for six races of three, six or nine hours, from February to November on five circuits.
Sprint Proto Series
In 2017, Jean-Philippe Dayraut launched a race series in the sprint format, the Sprint Proto Series, open to P3 models with a Nissan engine, and CN cars with a Honda engine, during race weekends that regroup different categories like Mitjets or Supertourism. This Proto Sprint Trophy with several 50-minute races open to one or two drivers takes place on several circuits in France. Each type of sport-prototype has their own classification.