The European Le Mans Series has confirmed that it will replace the 4 Hours of Barcelona with a second race at Paul Ricard due to the evolution of Spain’s COVID-19 situation.
The series will return to Paul Ricard where the 2020 season kicked off last month for another four-hour contest at the venue in southern France on August 29.
This will take place on the same weekend that was originally reserved for the now-canceled Barcelona event, marking the third round of the campaign.
Coronavirus cases have risen in Spain and Catalunya in recent weeks, prompting the return of quarantines on arrivals from these areas to countries including the UK.
ELMS CEO Gerard Neveu explained that the return of arrival quarantines would interfere with teams’ preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on September 19-20.
“After discussions with the ELMS teams, the organization teams in Barcelona and Le Castellet, we have taken the difficult decision to replace the 4 Hours of Barcelona with an event of identical duration in Le Castellet,” he said.
“These are complicated and uncertain times which call for us to react to guarantee the safety for everyone who works in the ELMS paddock, which is our top priority.
“The current situation with regards to COVID-19 in Spain has logically led us to take this course of action. The level of risk in Catalunya is high enough to justify the restrictive return travel measures.
“The teams would not be able to apply those measures, such as quarantine, only a few weeks before the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Nobody enjoys these kinds of changes but once again the health situation to date is imposing on us some exceptional conditions.”
Barcelona joined the ELMS calendar last year, replacing the Red Bull Ring on the schedule.
The series’ first race at the circuit resulted in a victory for G-Drive Racing’s trio of Jean-Eric Vergne, Job van Uitert and Roman Rusinov, while Inter Europol Competition and Luzich Racing triumphed in the LMP3 and GTE classes.
“We would like to first thank the staff at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for their understanding and we can’t wait to go back in 2021 to Barcelona,” said Neveu.
“We would like also to thank the team at Circuit Paul Ricard for allowing the ELMS to have the possibility of holding another meeting behind closed doors at short notice and with the same conditions as last month.”