Organizers of the European Le Mans Series together with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest today announced that they have canceled the two remaining rounds of the European Le Mans Series at Brno (Czech Republic) and Algarve (Portugal), which faced a dearth of entrants. Instead, ELMS entrants will be encouraged to run the final round of the American Le Mans Series, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 20.
For Petit Le Mans, a specific classification will be drawn up for the entrants in both series, which will give the final results in the two championships and will designate the teams that will receive invitations to the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours. Points scored in the ELMS Championship in the Petit Le Mans will count double for ELMS contenders.
In a statement announcing the move, which it said had been taken in coordination ith the ALMS, ACO officials blamed the downturn in the European economy for the failure of the ELMS series, which ran alongside the FIA's World Endurance Championship. This year the ELMS had banned LMP1 cars to focus on LMP2s, but although this division had delivered a competitive field, the LMPC and GTE classes had become increasingly weak. In last weekend's Donington Park round, the nine LMP2 cars were joined by just one LMPC car and three GTs, while the intended Zolder event in April had already been cancelled due to a low entry.
The ACO says, however, that it is not giving up on the ELMS and that it is "working flat out on the future of the series." A proposal for its next iteration will be announced in September.
The announcement was the second blow this week to European racing, following the SRO group's decision to end its promotion of the FIA GT1 and GT3 championships at year's end. There too, the downturn in the economy and a resulting lack of suitable fields of entrants was cited.