The 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the world’s two greatest motor races, has been postponed from its traditional mid-June running to the weekend of September 19-20.
To date, the change, which follows dozens of racing event postponements and cancellations in reaction to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, is the most significant of its kind.
“Postponing the 24 Hours of Le Mans from the original dates in June is now the most appropriate way forward in the current exceptional circumstances,” said Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest that holds the legendary race. “First and foremost, I urge everyone to avoid putting themselves, their loved ones and others at risk. The most important thing today is to curtail the spread of this virus. Our thoughts go out to medical staff working relentlessly for the sake of us all.
“The postponement of the 24 Hours of Le Mans means making changes to the WEC and ELMS calendars and we shall announce the new dates shortly. The safety and quality of our events will not be compromised. Competitors, sponsors, fans, media, medical services and organizers – it is time to pull together, more than ever before”
Serving as the final round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, the decision to push Le Mans to late September also means the start of the next WEC season, which was scheduled for September 4-5 at Silverstone in England, is subject to a new and undetermined start date.
As well, the debut of the ACO and WEC’s new Hypercar prototype formula, set for Silverstone, will also be delayed. Championships affiliated with the WEC face the same scheduling needs.
“It is the right decision to delay in light of the current situation,” said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu. “We are now working on revising our WEC and ELMS calendars for the remainder of this season, and for the WEC’s Season 9 which was due to start in September 2020. We will come back to you in the coming days with more news for both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series.”
Assuming the Sept. 19-20 Le Mans date holds, American teams and drivers with commitments to the event could face challenges if existing IndyCar and IMSA rounds are run as scheduled.
IndyCar’s visit to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca falls on the same Sept. 19-20 weekend, and one week prior, where scrutineering would likely be held for Le Mans, IMSA’s event at the Monterey circuit takes place. Stepping back another week to Sept. 5-6, where the mandatory Le Mans test day would be tipped to take place, IndyCar’s Portland round is on the books, which could complicate the attendance needs for those like Sebastien Bourdais, who would be double booked between A.J. Foyt Racing in Oregon and Risi Competizione in France.
For more information about race postponements and cancellations across world motorsport, as well as updates for those holding tickets for affected events, click here.