The 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours takes place three months later than usual in the unusual circumstances of a closed Circuit de la Sarthe, with the most famous endurance race in the world set to take place behind closed doors for the first time in history.
With the coronavirus pandemic still requiring widespread restrictions across the globe, a difficult decision was taken last month to keep Le Mans closed to fans, meaning the approximate 280,000 fans who normally attend will have to make do this year with watching on from home.
The measures have also impacted on the racing itself, with a more condensed schedule leading up to the main event and a slightly reduced grid as a result of the removal of the reserve list, with teams operating in strict bio-bubble conditions to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
The revamped 2020/21 season sees Le Mans arrive as the penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship, but with double-points on offer, there is plenty to play for in the title battle. The LMP1 fight sees the two Toyotas arrive at Le Mans with just 12 points between them, though with the No 1 Rebellion line-up of Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato 28 points off the leaders, they can put themselves firmly in the championship picture with a victory at Le Mans.
The championship battles across LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am are all well and truly alive, with United Autosports leading the way in LMP2 and Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari all in the mix in GTE Pro, though the GTE Am battle looks to be between the No 83 AF Corse Ferrari and the No 90 TF Sport Aston Martin.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s event.
No. Race organisers the ACO announced in June that they planned to welcome fans in camp site ‘bubbles’ of 5,000 people, with around 10 located around the track to allow an attendance of around 50,000 at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
But the ACO reversed the decision in August following a spike in coronavirus cases and announced that no fans will be allowed to attend this weekend, although any tickets already purchased will be eligible to be carried over to the 2021 event.
ACO president Pierre Fillon said in August: “Over the past few weeks, we have looked at many ways in which we could hold our event in September with fans present, albeit in limited numbers.
“However, given the constraints involved in organising a festival-scale event over several days in the current situation, we have opted with the local government authorities to hold the race behind closed doors.
“There were still too many question-marks regarding health and safety. We know that our fans will be as disappointed as we are by this decision but, with public health in the balance, it really wasn’t a difficult call to make.”
British race fans can watch the race on Eurosport, who will broadcast every practice and qualifying session apart from the opening practice, as well as the entire 24 hours of the race itself through the night.
Free practice 1: 9am-12pm – not on TV
Free practice 2: 1pm-4pm – Eurosport 2 (1pm-4pm)
Qualifying 1: 4:15pm-5pm – Eurosport 2 (4pm-5pm)
Free practice 3: 7pm-11pm – Eurosport 2 (7pm-11:15pm)
Free practice 4: 9am-10am – Eurosport 2 (9am-10am)
Qualifying 2 (Hyperpole): 10:30am-11am – Eurosport 2 (10:30am-11am)
Warm-up: 9:30am-9:45am – Eurosport 1 (9:30am-10am)
Road to Le Mans: 10am-11:30am – Eurosport 1 (10am-11:30am)
Le Mans 24 Hours: 1:30pm – Eurosport 1 (12:30pm-2am)
Le Mans 24 Hours finish: 1:30pm – Eurosport 1 (2am-2pm)
Coverage will be made available online via the Eurosport Player, which is available from £6.99 for a monthly pass.
24 Hours of Le Mans entry list
1. Rebellion Racing (Rebellion R13-Gibson): Gustavo Menezes, Norman Mato, Bruno Senna
3. Rebellion Racing (Rebellion R13-Gibson): Romain Dumas, Louis Deletraz, Nathanael Berthon
4. ByKolles Racing Team (ENSO CLM P1/01-Gibson: Tom Dillmann, Bruno Spengler, Oliver Webb
7. Toyota Racing (Toyota TS050 Hybrid): Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez
8. Toyota Racing (Toyota TS050 Hybrid): Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley
11. Eurointernational (Ligier JS P217-Gibson): Adrien Tambay, Erik Maris, Christope d’Ansembourg
16. G-Drive Racing by Algarve (Oreca 07-Gibson): Oliver Jarvis, Nick Tandy, Ryan Cullen
17. IDEC Sport (Oreca 07-Gibson): Kyle Tilley, Dwight Merriman, Jonathan Kennard
21. DragonSpeed USA (Oreca 07-Gibson): Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya, Timothe Buret
22. United Autosports (Oreca 07-Gibson): Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta
24. Nielsen Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): Tony Wells, Garrett Grist, Alex Kapadia
25. Algarve Pro Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): John Falb, Simon Trummer, Matt McMurry
26. G-Drive Racing (Aurus 01-Gibson): Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mikkel Jensen
27. DragonSpeed USA (Oreca 07-Gibson): Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, Renger van der Zande
28. IDEC Sport (Oreca 07-Gibson): Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin, Richard Bradley
29. Racing Team Nederland (Oreca 07-Gibson): Guido van der Garde, Nyck de Vries, Frits van Eerd
30. Duqueine Engineering (Oreca 07-Gibson): Tristan Gommendy, Jonathan Hirschi, Konstantin Tereshchenko
31. Panis Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): Julian Canal, Nico Jamin, Matthieu Vaxiviere
32. United Autosports (Oreca 07-Gibson): Alex Brundle, Will Owen, Job van Uitert
33. High Class Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): Kenta Yamashita, Mark Patterson, Anders Fjordbach
34. Inter Europol Competition (Ligier JS P217-Gibson): Jakub Smiechowski, Rene Binder, Matevos Isaakyan
35. Eurasia Motorsport (Ligier JS P217-Gibson): Roberto Merhi, Nick Foster, Nobuya Yamanaka
36: Signatech Alpine (Alpine A470-Gibson): Pierre Ragues, Andre Negrao, Thomas Laurent
37: Jackie Chan DC Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): Ho-Pin Tung
38: JOTA (Oreca 07-Gibson): Roberto Gonzalez, Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson
39: Graff (Oreca 07-Gibson): James Allen, Charles Milesi, Vincent Capillaire
42: Cool Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): Nicolas Lapierre, Antonin Borga, Alexandre Coigny
47: Cetilar Racing (Dallara P217-Gibson): Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto, Andrea Belicchi
50. Richard Mille Racing (Oreca 07-Gibson): Sophia Floersch, Tatiana Calderon, Beitske Visser
51. AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GTE): James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra
65: WeatherTech Racing (Ferrari 488 GTE): Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander, Jeff Segal
71. AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GTE): Sam Bird, Davide Rigon, Miguel Moline
82. Risi Competizione (Ferrari 488 GTE): Sebastien Bourdais, Olivier Pla, Jules Gounon
91. Porsche GT Team (Porsche 911 RSR-19): Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki
92. Porsche GT Team (Porsche 911 RSR-19): Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor
95. Aston Martin Racing (Aston Martin Vantage): Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen, Richard Westbrook
97. Aston Martin Racing (Aston Martin Vantage): Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin, Harry Tincknell
52. AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GTE): Christophe Ulrich, Steffen Gorif, Alexander West
54: AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GTE): Giancarlo Fisichella, Francesco Castellacci, Thomas Flohr
55: Spirit of Race (Ferrari 488 GTE): Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Aaron Scott
56: Team Project 1 (Porsche 911 RSR): Larry ten Voorde, Matteo Cairoli, Egidio Perfetti
57. Team Project 1 (Porsche 911 RSR): Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Felipe Fraga
60: Iron Lynx (Ferrari 488 GTE): Claudio Schiavoni, Paolo Ruberti, Sergio Pianezzola
61: Luzich Racing (Ferrari 488 GTE): Francesco Piovanetti, Oswaldo Negri Jr, Come Ledogar
62. Red River Sport (Ferrari 488 GTE): Johnny Mowlem, Bonamy Grimes, Charlie Hollings
66: JMW Motorsport (Ferrari 488 GTE): Richard Heistand, Maxwell Root, Jan Magnussen
70. MR Racing (Ferrari 488 GTE): Kei Cozzolino, Takeshi Kimura, Vincent Abril
72. HubAuto Corsa (Ferrari 488 GTE): Morris Chen, Tom Blomqvist, Marcos Gomes
75. Iron Lynx (Ferrari 488 GTE): Andrea Piccini, Matteo Cressoni, Rino Mastronardi
77. Dempsey-Proton Racing (Porsche 911 RSR): Christian Ried, Ricardo Pera, Matt Campbell
78. Proton Competition (Porsche 911 RSR): Horst Felbermayr Jr, Michele Beretta, Max van Splunteren
83: AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GTE): Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard, Nicklas Nielsen
85. Iron Lynx (Ferrari 488 GTE): Rahel Frey, Manuela Gostner, Michelle Gatting
86: Gulf Racing (Porsche 911 RSR): Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker, Andrew Watson
88: Dempsey-Proton Racing (Porsche 911 RSR): Thomas Preining, Adrien de Leener, Dominique Bastien
89. Team Project 1 (Porsche 911 RSR): Steve Brooks, Julien Piquet, Andreas Laskaratos
90. TF Sport (Aston Martin Vantage): Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood, Jonathan Adam
98. Aston Martin Racing (Aston Martin Vantage): Paul Dalla Lana, Augusto Farfus, Ross Gunn
99. Dempsey-Proton Competition (Porsche 911 RSR): Lucas Legeret, Vutthikorn Inthraphuva, Julien Andlaur