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The World Championship was usually an endurance series, although during its existence has covered some sprint races and even hillclimbs. The official name of World Championship was unfortunately often changed. Some of them are: Sportscar World Championship, World Endurance Championship, World Championship for Makes (or for Manufacturers), and World Sports Prototypes Championship. During its history we can find, in my opinion, several different periods.
The first era dated from 1953 to 1961. Every season had about 6 races in which prototypes, serial sportcars, or GT cars of all classes could start. Points were awarded to the top six finishers.
The situation was totally changed in 1962-65 when the FIA decided to pay more attention to GT cars. They were grouped into three categories with separate classifications. Hillclimbs, sprint races and other smaller races expanded the championship, which had now about 15 races per year. The most famous races like Le Mans, 12 h Sebring, Targa Florio or 1000 km Nürburgring were counted toward the prototype championship. However, the points valuation wasn't very tabular so the FIA returned to the original form of the championship with about 6 to 10 races.
Possibly the most famous era of World Championship was between 1966 and 1971 when we saw such cars like Ford GT40, Ford Mk IV, Lola T70 Mk III, Ferrari 330 P4 or 512 S and a legendary Porsche 917.
Many sportscars were excluded in 1972 when 3 litre limit was established. Points were then awarded to the top ten finishers. There was also a separate classification for GT cars (1968-75). In this fourth period (1972-77) many manufacturers lost their interest (Ferrari - 1973, Matra - 1974, Porsche - 1976, Renault - 1976 and Alfa Romeo - 1977) and the championship died in 1978 as the European Sportscar Championship.
In 1976 a separate championship for GT and new silhouette (group 5 cars) was introduced. This was the fifth era of the World Championship (1976-81). Because of absolute Porsche domination, starting in 1978 points were awarded in two divisions. In 1979 prototypes were admitted to start again after canceling their own championship.
The last era was 10 years belonging to the group C cars. This was the period of the World Championship with the prettiest and quickest machines. In 1991 the FIA changed the rules to bring more attention of manufacturers to F1. The starting field decreased by four times and in the last race we saw only eight cars starting (but also 8 finishing). Many world manufacturers built group C cars - Porsche, Ford, Lancia, Jaguar, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Aston Martin and Peugeot.
The most successful makes of World Championship were Porsche with most titles followed by Ferrari which was withdrawn after 1973 season.
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