The organizing body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), has announced that it is postponing this year’s race by a little over two months.
It’s the second successive year that the race has faced a delay from its original spot in the FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, and fans will be unsurprised to learn that the reason is identical: the ongoing international health crisis.
This impacted the 2020 race, and while the outlook is turning more positive this year there’s still a significant way to go before an end is in sight. Had the race taken place on its original dates of June 12-13, there’d be no possibility for fans to attend the event. By postponing the race to August 21-22, the ACO is hopeful that spectators will be able to be there in person.
2021 is of course a significant year for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, due to a sweeping change in the regulations governing the top category. The LMP1 cars which have formed the top class since 2004 are no more, replaced with the Le Mans Hypercar class. This new set of regulations was originally intended to bring costs down and enable road car participation for overall victory, though the rules have changed in the last couple of years and will allow converted Prototype machinery too.
Nonetheless, when the three vehicles entered in the LMH class this year — the Alpine A480, the SCG 007, and Toyota’s GR010 — line up on the grid this August it will mark the start of a new era. Peugeot and Ferrari also have planned entries for future seasons.
Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO, commented:
“Although it was a tough decision to make, it is the right one. 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.”
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