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24H Le Mans

France Fuel Strike Causes Disruption, Possible Long-Term Threat

Fuel strike, other transportation disruptions to threaten Le Mans?

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

A shortage of fuel caused by strikes and protests in France could impact next weekend’s Le Mans Test Day, and potentially if unresolved, the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

Unions have blocked oil refineries across the nation, either through protests or strikes, over reforms of employment law, leading to mass shortages of gasoline and diesel for motorists in large parts of the country.

According to a report from the Independent, one-quarter of France’s gasoline stations were closed or running short of fuel as of Wednesday morning.

Additional strikes and/or protests on electricity at nuclear power plants, as well as the country’s rail network have also been planned this week.

The Independent reports that the government has dismissed any possibility of disruption of the Euro 2016 soccer championship, which is set to begin in France on June 10, one week prior to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic is still more than three weeks away, the official test day — mandatory for all teams and new drivers competing in the race — is scheduled for June 5.

Media reports indicate there are concerns the dispute could continue for “many days” and could worsen.

Reuters, meanwhile, reports that France has mobilized its fuel reserves, for the first time since the last major refinery strike in 2010. It’s unclear how much fuel they have in reserve.

It’s not the first time there have been strikes in France around June, potentially disrupting travel to and from Le Mans, the most recent being a nationwide rail strike impacting many high-speed trains in 2014.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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