This year’s European Le Mans Series season is now set to get underway in July for the first of five rounds on a revised schedule on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Released on Friday afternoon, the new schedule features races at five of the six venues that were previously set to host the championship this year.
The only unchanged date is the new season-opener, the 4 Hours of Paul Ricard on July 19, which will take place following a pre-season test at the French track on July 13-14.
Spa-Francorchamps’ race date has been moved forward from September to Aug. 9, one week prior to the rescheduled FIA World Endurance Championship round.
WEC and ELMS CEO Gerard Neveu explained that it isn’t possible for both series to share a weekend at Spa, like they have historically done at Silverstone, because of technical and logistical reasons, including that LMP2 cars can’t run out of Spa’s second ‘endurance’ pit lane.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was initially slated to open the season this weekend but will now host the series on Aug. 29, ahead of a round at Monza on Oct. 11, instead of its previous May 10 date.
The series finale remains at Portimao but has been moved two weeks from Oct. 18 to Nov. 1.
The new date for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, communicated last month, is Sept. 19-20, fitting in between ELMS rounds at Barcelona and Monza, and on the weekend initially occupied by ELMS’ visit to Spa.
All five ELMS rounds will run for four hours. The only track not included on the new schedule is Silverstone, which was previously planned to host ELMS on Sept. 6.
Neveu said a commercial agreement couldn’t be reached with the UK circuit, particularly with the absence of a WEC round at the circuit for this year.
“The new 2020 ELMS calendar will last four months instead of seven,” Neveu said.
“In this difficult economic and healthcare climate, we made the choice to hold five races instead of six to ensure the comfort of our competitors.
“Obviously, this new calendar is subject to changes according to the resolution of the crisis and our capacity to organize races in the countries we planned to visit at the dates mentioned above.
“As everyone knows, we will always prioritize the health of our competitors, our paddock and our fans.
“We also take the opportunity to implore everyone to take care of themselves and their loved ones.”
2020 ELMS Schedule:
July 13-14 – Paul Ricard (test days)
July 19 – 4H Paul Ricard
Aug. 9 – 4H Spa
Aug. 29 – 4H Barcelona
Oct. 11 – 4H Monza
Nov. 1 – 4H Portimao