The 24 Hours of Le Mans postponed due to COVID-19

The 2021 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been delayed due to — you guessed it — COVID-19. The race, originally set to take place June 12-13, has now been pushed back to August 21-22, race organizers Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced on Thursday. The ACO says it wanted to make the decision early to give teams and attendees a chance to prepare.

The postponement marks the second year in a row that the famed enduro has been moved to the fall from its time-honored spring slot. In the end, last year’s rain checked race was run with no spectators in attendance. This year, the ACO is trying to avoid a repeat.

“Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon on Twitter. “We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season.”

The 2021 event with be the 89th time the renowned race has been held, and the debut of the new Hypercar class. The eagerly awaited category will see Toyota, Peugeot, Scuderia Glickenhuas and ByKolles competing. Last month, Ferrari announced they would join the fray in 2023. If things go well, the new class should usher in a new golden age of prototype racing, as well as supercars, since the Hypercar class requires competitors to produce at least 20 road-going examples of the race cars within two years of starting competition.

Already, the Le Mans delay has prompted the European Le Mans Series to move the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, held at Circuit Paul Ricard, to June 4-6.

Since 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has only been postponed twice, not counting a decade-long absence in the 1940s because of World War II. In 1956, construction at the Circuit de la Sarthe moved the race to July, and in 1968, protests in France pushed it back to September.

In his last tweet on the matter, Fillon reassured fans, “We are working very hard to put on a safe event, with all the necessary health precautions in place.”

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