The 24 Hours of Le Mans is expected to move from its June 12-13 weekend to a new date of August 21-22.
RACER has learned the legendary French endurance race is set for a second consecutive calendar shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But unlike 2020 where the event was pushed to September and run without fans, this year’s delay comes with the hope of hosting a sizable audience at Circuit de la Sarthe once vaccines for the coronavirus have been administered in greater numbers.
For North American teams from IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the delay moves Le Mans from a place of no conflicts in June to the same August weekend where IMSA’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR is held.
Although it has not been confirmed, a return to Le Mans has been tipped for Corvette Racing. Along with other GT Le Mans and GT Daytona entrants with an intent to participate at the 24-hour race, missing a round of the WeatherTech Championship would be required unless IMSA is willing and able to find another date for VIR.
To accommodate the ACO/WEC’s choice of June 12-13 for the original Le Mans date, which conflicts with the WeatherTech Championship’s annual visit to Detroit with the NTT IndyCar Series, IMSA and the organization that runs the street race on Belle Isle – in the shadow of General Motors’ global headquarters – created a standalone event on June 6. Provided the new August date is confirmed, the solo Detroit weekend for IMSA would no longer serve its purpose of removing a calendar clash.
The NTT IndyCar Series, which often sees some of its drivers or teams race at Le Mans, had the aforementioned conflict with Detroit; the date change for Le Mans would obviously free Belle Isle from sharing the same date and move the conflict to IndyCar’s final oval race of the year, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technologies Raceway in Illinois.
Formal confirmation of the August 21-22 move, and any related WEC event shifts, could come before the end of the week.