Le Mans 24 Hours postpones 2021 edition until August

The Le Mans 24 Hours will be postponed from its usual June slot for a second year in a row owing to the global health crisis, and will now take place in August.

Le Mans 24 Hours postpones 2021 edition until August

Race organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest made the announcement on Thursday, revealing that the 89th edition of the French classic is now slated for the weekend of August 21-22.

It follows last year's race being moved to September, which marked the first time it hadn't taken place in June since 1968, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACO President Pierre Fillon said the choice had been taken to maximise the chances of fans being allowed to attend, after the 2020 race was held behind closed doors.

“Although it was a tough decision to make, it is the right one," said Fillon. "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."

The announcement of the new date follows the denials of the ACO earlier in the year that it had alternative weekend pencilled in should the world health situation not improve. 

Details of the format of practice and qualifying, as well as information on tickets, will be released at the end of April. 

This will will include whether or not there will be an official test day, which was initially reinstated for 2021 after being abandoned last year when the race was postponed. 

The rest of the six-race FIA World Endurance Championship calendar remains unchanged at this time, with the two pre-Le Mans events, at the Algarve circuit on April 4 and Spa on May 1, both set to go ahead behind closed doors. 

Fuji Speedway is scheduled to host the first WEC round after Le Mans on September 26.

It is unclear how the change in date of Le Mans will impact Corvette Racing's plans to return to the 24 Hours after its GTE Pro team was forced to skip last year's rescheduled event.

The American manufacturer showed its intent to be at Le Mans by entering a solo Corvette C8.R for the Algarve WEC round, but the new date clashes with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Virginia International Raceway. 

The entry list for Le Mans this year will be published next Tuesday (March 9).

Additionally, the date of the Paul Ricard round of the European Le Mans Series, originally scheduled for August 27-29, has now been moved to June 4-6.

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