A Thursday Hyperpole qualifying session and a Test Day on the Sunday before the race have been outlined in a schedule update for this year’s postponed 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Race organizer the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has announced provisional timetable details for the rescheduled 89th running of Le Mans, which is taking place on Aug. 21-22.
The event will include the return of the Hyperpole qualifying format, which made its debut last year behind closed doors.
Hyperpole, which is reached by the top six finishers in a preliminary qualifying session, was originally due to be held on Thursday last year but was moved to Friday when the schedule was adapted and compressed following the event’s delay to September.
Pre-event scrutineering will take place at the Circuit de la Sarthe on Friday, Aug. 13 rather than in Le Mans city center. This will lead into the official Test Day on Sunday, Aug. 15.
The Test Day was pushed back to the weekend before Le Mans when the 2021 race was due to go ahead in June, while this policy has been carried over to the new August date.
The opening practice session has been bookmarked for 2 p.m. CEST on Wednesday, Aug. 18. Practice usually starts on Wednesday but was shifted to Thursday last year.
Other practice session timings have not been confirmed, but Hyperpole will take place on Thursday evening from 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m, giving teams a full day on Friday to prepare their cars for the race start on Saturday afternoon.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, a drivers’ parade through Le Mans city center was held on the Friday but there has been no confirmation if this will be on the 2021 program.
The race is due to get underway at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21. An earlier 2:30 p.m. start time was introduced last year.
To manage the adjusted schedule, all public roads comprising the Circuit de la Sarthe will be closed from 8 a.m. on Aug. 18 to the evening of Sunday, Aug. 21 after the race.
Previously the public road sections of the track were opened and closed between track sessions.
Fun Cup, Endurance Legends on Support Bill
In addition to the preliminary schedule details, the ACO has outlined the support races for this year’s event which the organization is planning to hold with fans in attendance.
The Fun Cup series for single-make Volkswagen Beetle replicas will make its Le Mans debut with a five-hour race on the full Circuit de la Sarthe layout on the Friday.
There will also be two races for the Endurance Racing Legends package involving Le Mans cars from the 1990s and 2000s.
A single Porsche Sprint Challenge France contest and two 60-minute Road to Le Mans LMP3/GT3 races, as part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup season, complete the schedule.
The ACO says that further information on the schedule, spectator access and ticketing will be issued next month.