It’s fair to say that this years racing calendar hasn’t exactly gone to plan. That’s why we’re about to settle down for one of our favorite 24 hours of racing of the year in mid-September — for the first time since 1968 — rather than its more common summer time slot.
Yes, some 15 months after the last running, the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans is finally upon us. It’ll be the second-last round in the final FIA World Endurance Championship of 2019-2020, before a return to the annual schedule and the dawn of the Le Mans hypercars in 2021.
The new September date throws up some unusual challenges for this year’s race. For a start, track temperatures will likely be much lower than in June — and weather forecasts suggest lurking thunderstorms this weekend too. Moreover, there’s going to be a lot more darkness than usual; September’s sunrise and sunset times say that almost 50% more of the race will be during the night, accounting for close to half the race.
Some things though haven’t changed. For the fourth successive year, Toyota is on pole position, as it looks to be the first Japanese manufacturer to win three titles. As with two of the previous three qualifying sessions, it’s the #7 car that’s come out fastest. The new hyperpole format saw Kamui Kobayashi turn in a 3:15.267 lap to come out ahead of — surprisingly — the #1 Rebellion car, with the #8 Toyota in third.
Outside of the top category, this year populated by just five cars, the #22 United Autosports Oreca took the LMP2 class pole courtesy of Paul di Resta. Gianmaria Bruni took the hyperpole in LMGTE Pro in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, and Come Ledogar in the #61 Ferrari 488 coming out fastest in LMGTE Am.
The race will get underway on September 19 at 1430 local time (1230UTC; convert to your local time here), with this year’s starter being Groupe PSA chief executive officer Carlos Tavares. That comes ahead of PSA brand Peugeot re-entering the race next season with a new hypercar.
You can follow the race here on GTPlanet in our discussion thread, and with the important information below.