Le Mans schedule condensed due to pandemic

FILE PHOTO: Nick Tandy of Britain drives his Porsche 919 Hybrid number 19 (R) ahead the Audi R18 e-tron quattro number 7 driven by Marcel Fassler of Switzerland, during the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race in Le Mans, central France June 14, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – The rescheduled 24 Hours of Le Mans in September will be condensed into a four-day timetable incorporating free practice, qualifying, warm-up and the race, organizers announced on Thursday.

In the past, practice and qualifying has started on the Wednesday before the race but the 2020 race has been postponed from June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s extraordinary circumstances call for an extraordinary program,” said the Automobile Club de l’Ouest in a statement.

“Well aware of the financial impact of the current situation on racing teams, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest was keen to ensure that their resources are not tied up over too long a period.”

The 62 cars will take to the Sarthe circuit in northwestern France on Thursday, Sept 17, for practice and first qualifying with more practice and a 24-car ‘Hyperpole’ shoot-out on Friday before the Sept 19-20 race.

Organizers, who have not ruled out having to run the race behind closed doors, said they will give details about spectator access on June 30.

The sportscar race, now in its 88th edition, was attended by 250,000 people in June 2019 with a large number coming from Britain.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis

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