The newly announced Sporting Regulations for the 2020 European Le Mans Series include some notable changes to the auto-entry process for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Up to seven automatic entries are now potentially available for the 2021 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours as part of this change. Previously five invitations were handed out, for the first- and second-place finishers in the LMP2 and GTE class championships and for the winner in LMP3. Now an additional two entries can be awarded, should the number of full-season entries in LMP2 and GTE rise to predetermined levels.
For LMP2, if there are up to 11 entries then just one auto entry will be awarded to the class champion; that will rise to two if there are between 12 and 17 entries. Should there be 18-23, then three will be awarded. While it was always highly likely that the third-place finisher in the LMP2 championship would receive an invite if it applied through the standard process, this now gives that team an assurance it will be able to compete at Le Mans far in advance.
In GTE, if 4-7 cars are registered for the full-season it will be a single auto entry for the class-winning team. If the number is 8-11 cars it will be auto entries for the top two teams in the class and if 12-15 cars are registered for the season, a third entry will go the way of the team that finishes third in the points.
It would be a surprise to see the ELMS GTE class grow to the level required for three entries, as the highest car count in recent years was this season where the full-season entry featured nine cars, although only six cars actually competed in all six races. LMP2 featured 19 cars this year, although, significant growth in entries is expected for 2020.
The auto-entry process for LMP3, on the other hand, continues unchanged, with just the winning team in the category receiving an LMP2 entry for Le Mans.