This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans has been postponed to a new date in September as a result of precautions against the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Race organizer the Automobile Club de l’Ouest confirmed on Wednesday that the final round of the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season won’t take place on its original June 13-14 date.
Le Mans will instead be held on Sept. 19-20, marking the first time in 52 years that the French endurance classic has taken place after summer.
The rescheduling puts the event after the projected start of the 2020-21 WEC season, which had been due to get underway at Silverstone on Sept. 5.
It is additionally on the same weekend as the original date for the European Le Mans Series round at Spa.
However, the ACO confirmed that postponing Le Mans will result in changes to the WEC, ELMS and associated support championship calendars, and that information of any adjustments will be communicated in due course.
“It is the right decision to delay in light of the current situation,” said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.
“We are now working on revising our WEC, ELMS, Michelin Le Mans Cup and Ligier European Series calendars for the remainder of this season, and for the WEC’s Season 9 which was due to start in September 2020.
“We will come back to you in the coming days with more news for both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series.”
Le Mans is the latest major sporting event to be affected by global measures aimed at controlling the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The two WEC rounds prior to Le Mans at Sebring in March and Spa in April were also called off recently.
Sportscar365 understands that the Spa race could be rescheduled to a date before the 24 Hours, although no confirmation has been made from the WEC or ACO.
“Postponing the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2020, originally scheduled for June 13-14, is the appropriate solution in face of the exceptional health circumstances that we are all going through today,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon.
“It goes without saying that we will make every effort to ensure the safety and quality of our events.
“First of all, I want to ask everyone to take no risk for themselves, their families and others. Today it is a question of stopping the spread of this virus.
“I would also like to spare warm thoughts for all the medical personnel working to protect our health.”
Rescheduled Events Creating Busy Fall Period
The postponement of Le Mans to Sept. 19-20, along with other event rearrangements, is starting to create a busy period of racing in the fall of 2020.
As confirmed on Tuesday, the Nürburgring 24 – which was originally scheduled to take place in May before Le Mans – will now be held the weekend after on Sept. 26-27.
Le Mans is set to share its dates with several high-profile series, including IndyCar which is due to be at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Formula 1 in Singapore.
Other series currently on the same billing include Virgin Australia Supercars (The Bend), British GT (Donington Park), GT World Challenge America powered by AWS (Watkins Glen) and ADAC GT Masters (Hockenheim).
Le Mans is also now one week after the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Laguna Seca.
These clashes could have implications for drivers and teams that are involved in multiple championships, although this depends on whether further calendar changes are made.