The 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day has been cancelled in light of the COVID-19 situation which forced the ACO to postpone the 24 Hours from June to September this year.
The Test Day is usually held on the weekend before Scrutineering and race week begins. But the event’s organizing body, the ACO, feels that the competitors may be overstretched if they have to commit to a Test Day this year with so many other championships trying to fit races into what figures to become an increasingly congested calendar for the second half to the year.
The last time there was no Le Mans Test Day was in 2009 and 2010, when it was dropped due to the poor economic climate at the time.
“We decided not to hold the 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day this year,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon. “The reason is that competitors would have been overtaxed. As you know, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is now scheduled for September 19-20. Test Day is usually a fortnight before the race.
“However, the test is not as old as the race itself and has been skipped on several occasions. Two weeks before the race would have meant holding Test Day a week after the 24 Hours Motos, now scheduled for August 29-30.
“Holding two major events within three weeks of each other is already a challenge and we had to rethink our priorities. The outcome was to sacrifice the Test Day. We shall be holding free practice sessions during race week to allow time to test machines and for inexperienced drivers to familiarize themselves with the circuit. We’ll announce the details in April.”
Fillon also explained that the team around him are working hard to ensure that the 2020 running of the Le Mans 24 Hour is still a successful event with a high attendance, despite the end of the year set to be packed with rescheduled sporting events around the world.
“Admittedly, this autumn is going to be packed with events. And there are probably more to come. But June, when we usually hold the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is a busy month too.
“There’s the French Open, an international football tournament every two years, basketball finals, Formula 1 Grand Prix – so attendance-wise the situation will be no different. When September comes around, if people are spoiled for choice on which events to attend, that will be something to celebrate, not a problem.
“Where tickets are concerned, it will be up to us to put together an attractive package to suit the circumstances, tailored to perhaps a different audience, certainly with different priorities and a new mindset.
“In 1968, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was also postponed to September. There were 300,000 spectators that year.
“Whatever happens, we will do our best to satisfy fans, competitors, suppliers and partners. It’s a team effort.”
The ACO expects to be able to provide more updates soon on structure for the FIA WEC and European Le Mans Series calendars this year.
“We’ll be able to tell you more about that shortly,” he said. “Once again, we’re not deciding any of this alone. We’re discussing it with everyone else involved, so we need a few more days.
“It’s a joint task involving competitors, our partners, the federations, the other circuits for our international events, the organizers, promoters, the Ministry of Sport, other sports disciplines, TV channels, and so on. It’s not just us here at Le Mans or just motorsport.
“We have a special unit working on it and it’s actually harder to set out a calendar over a few short months than for the usual year.
“We take stock every day, reconsider things according to the latest situation with the pandemic, and the instructions enforced in different countries because our championships travel from one place to another and our competitors don’t just come from France. They must be able to compete in our races.”