Le Mans makes a U-turn; race will be held without fans September 19–20

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Le Mans at night
Federation Internationale de L’Automobile

Good news for motorsports fans: The 88th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, rescheduled from June, will go off as planned—or replanned—September 19–20.

Bad news: Like the 2020 Indianapolis 500, whose organizers had hoped to have spectators present but ultimately decided against it, Le Mans will be held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After discussions with French public health and safety authorities, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the Sarthe Prefecture announced earlier today that fans will not be allowed trackside for the iconic endurance race.

“Over the last 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 organizing a festival-scale event over several days in the current situation, we have opted [against it],” Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, said in a statement on the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile website. “There were still too many question marks regarding health and safety.”

A limited number of journalists will be allowed access to Le Mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe, located about 130 miles southwest of Paris. Ticket holders will be contacted by the ticket office, and fans will be given options to follow the race digitally.

“You don’t compromise where safety is concerned,” Fillon said.

The 24-hour race will be televised on ESPN2, starting Saturday, September 19 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time (2:30 p.m. in France).

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