The 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been postponed to Aug. 21-22, race organizer the Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced on Thursday.
The 89th edition of the renowned endurance event was due to take place on June 12-13 with an official test day one week beforehand, but will now be held 10 weeks later in a bid to ensure spectators can attend amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It marks the second consecutive year in which Le Mans has been moved from its traditional mid-June slot and sets up the first-ever August running of the race.
Last year Le Mans was pushed back to September for only the second time in its near-century long history, while the event took place without public access for the first time.
ACO President Pierre Fillon commented that it would be “unthinkable” for the ACO to stage Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year in a row.
“Although it was a tough decision to make, it is the right one,” he said.
“Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable. We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season.
“We are working very hard to put on a safe event, with all the necessary health precautions in place. This year’s race promises to be another thriller as the new Hypercar class makes its debut.”
The decision to postpone Le Mans provisionally moves the 24-hour race from round three to round four in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship schedule.
Le Mans originally sat between the 6 Hours of Spa in May and the 6 Hours of Monza in July, but will now take place five weeks after the Italian round.
The re-arranged August date falls on the same weekend as events for other major race series, while the ACO has said that it is “working closely with the organizers of the various events that could be impacted by this change”.
The Suzuka 10 Hours, which represents round two of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, is scheduled for Aug. 22 while the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT classes are due to visit Virginia International Raceway on that weekend.
The NTT IndyCar Series and the DTM also have events planned for when Le Mans is now due to be held, although IndyCar was also due to run on the original June date.
An entry list for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is due to be issued on March 9.
Ticketing information and event format details will be released at the end of April.