A decision on whether the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be postponed will be made by April 15 according to ACO President Pierre Fillon, who has stressed that the event will still go ahead this year no matter “whatever happens.”
The French endurance classic, which is scheduled for June 13-14, has currently not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced cancellations and postponements of virtually all motorsports events through the end of April.
Next month’s Total 6 Hours of Spa, which was to be the penultimate round of the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season, has been the latest event to be postponed, with the WEC seeking an alternative date later in the year.
From the ACO’s side, it recently postponed the 24 Hours Motos race, originally scheduled for April, to early September, a measure which Fillon explained was done in order to give teams and spectators “ample warning” that is also expected to be extended to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Following the government announcements, we cancelled or postponed other events scheduled for March and April,” Fillon said.
“For the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we are monitoring the situation and following instructions issued by the authorities.
“We shall announce our decision on April 15. Whatever happens, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will go ahead this year.”
France, which has seen more than 4,500 cases and nearly 100 deaths due to the COVID-19 virus, has forced the closure of all non-essential businesses, including schools, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and most shops.
It has included the closure of the Le Mans museum, karting track and training school until further notice.
Fillon described the current environment as “extremely unstable” for both France and countries around the world.
“New restrictions and recommendations are announced frequently,” he said. ‘They differ from country to country, depending on how the virus is spreading and the precautions taken.
“We are all in this unprecedented situation together.
“Flexibility is key and we are being as proactive as possible, working on a different set of hypotheses for each event.”
The ACO, which employees 200 people, has taken proactive measures within its organization, with work-at-home policies being encouraged as well as offering paid leave for those who have children that would otherwise have been in school.
“Protective measures are applied in the workplace and we encourage others to comply too,” Fillon said.
“Business travel has been restricted. Meetings are in small groups, with the appropriate distance between people. We use videoconferencing whenever possible.
“Generally speaking, we comply strictly with guidelines. These are all sensible – vital – precautions.”
LMDh Announcement “As Soon as Possible”
Fillon confirmed that a press conference for the planned technical details of LMDh, which were to be presented this week at Sebring, will be established “as soon as possible”.
It comes amid IMSA president John Doonan’s comments that the regs announcement may be “a little late” due to the the current situation, although he indicated that the technical departments and manufacturers intend to use teleconferencing measures for the time being.
“We consider the national and international picture every day,” Fillon said. “It’s not easy, it’s not simple, but we’re doing our best to soften the blow for all concerned.
“Yes, our schedules are affected, but we have no choice but to rework them and draw up new ones.”