The competition for cars will be even more keenly felt in terms of privateers. When the ILMC was first proposed at Le Mans in 2009, the focus was very much on manufacturer LMP1 teams. The original idea was effectively to parachute the manufacturers chasing outright glory at Le Mans onto the existing LMS and ALMS grids, something Audi was already doing at Sebring and Petit Le Mans and at Spa-Francorchamps.
That has changed significantly, so much so that the ILMC entry list for this year stands at 26 cars spread across four classes. There are manufacturers' titles on offer in LMP1 and GTE and teams' titles in all four divisions. Next year, there will be overall drivers' and manufacturers' world champions crowned from the LMP1 division, while manufacturers in the GTE Pro class will compete for a World Cup and teams in LMP2 and GTE Am compete for FIA Trophies.
The ACO is talking about having 35 cars traveling around the world next year to contest the seven-race WEC. The likelihood is that those extra 10 or so cars are already competing somewhere, probably in either the LMS or the ALMS.
The LMS, which is jointly promoted by the ACO but run on the ground by the Paris-based Le Mans Endurance Organization, will be plowing its own furrow next year. One gets the impression that series boss Patrick Peter believes the rug was pulled from under his feet by the creation of the ILMC and now the WEC. So the LMS will race separately from the WEC next season and it was decided at Peter's suggestion that the LMP1 division will be dropped. No great loss: it's been a shadow of its former self on weekends when the ILMC cars aren't present.
Inevitably then, relations between Peter and the ACO have definitely cooled over the past year. How the relationship develops between the ACO and the FIA, two organizations which were traditionally never happy bedfellows, will be key to the success or failure of the WEC. ACO president Jean-Claude Plassart has also been keen to point out that the relationship has always been cordial under his watch, and the arrival of Todt at FIA headquarters in Paris appears to have improved that.
But the question remains, who is in charge of the WEC? The ACO is the promoter, that much is certain, but on technical issues the situation is less clear. Todt says the FIA will be in charge of technical and sporting rules, the ACO says it there will be a joint responsibility.
The World Endurance Championship has to be good news for sports car racing, at least at its very pinnacle, because it's good news for manufacturers investing in expensive LMP1 programs. What it means further down the food chain will be revealed by the entry lists for the WEC and other sports car championships.
• For the full version of this feature article, plus much more, check out the October 2011 issue of RACER magazine, which is NOT available on newsstands. CLICK HERE to subscribe.