Association SRT41 has become the first outfit to withdraw from the 2020 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which is now set to take place in September due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The French team had been due to run a Garage 56 (Invitational) entry in this year’s race with a specially adapted ORECA 07 driven by three physically impaired drivers.
Team owner Frederic Sausset, who competed and finished the 2016 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours as a quadruple-amputee, said the team has filed an entry into the 2021 edition of the race.
“After much discussion with my drivers Takuma Aoki, Nigel Bailly, and Snoussi Ben Moussa, Team SRT41, the heads of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the ELMS, the presidents of the FIA and the FFSA, and everyone contributing to the success of our extraordinary project to be the first team of disabled drivers to ever race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the legendary race this coming September 19 and 20 due to the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Sausset said in a statement.
“The upheaval and interruption of our scheduled plans caused by the lockdown in France mean that we would not be able to adequately prepare for and compete in such a challenging race in optimum conditions.
“After having carefully weighed all of our options, taken into account the human and financial costs of this terrible crisis, and considered the values that I have strived to uphold since the beginning of the SRT41 adventure, I have come to the conclusion that withdrawing from this year’s race is the sensible thing to do.
“I have immediately submitted to the ACO our request to compete in the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I am hoping that by then this pandemic will be behind us and that the challenging new era ahead will be one in which sports, human achievement, and the exhilaration of regained freedom will be shared by all.
“We will continue to keep everyone who has supported our unique project informed about our progress through regular updates on social media. The team had been busy preparing for the race before the COVID-19 situation put motorsport on hold back in March. Its three drivers all tested the team’s ORECA at Paul Ricard over multiple days in early March (pictured above). RACER understands that the car ran flawlessly and all three drivers showed solid pace.
Subject to confirmation by the ACO of the withdrawal, Spirit of Race’s No. 55 Ferrari 488 GTE is first reserve and will therefore be handed the opportunity to compete.