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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

2024 Le Mans 24 Hours weather forecast: will it rain in France?

The Le Mans 24 Hours is famous for being one of motorsport’s most gruelling events with several factors behind that like fatigue, darkness or the hair-raising Circuit de la Sarthe.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

But the weather plays another key role in the contest and can often be the difference between success and failure, as the 2008 edition proved.

Peugeot was leading the race until rain fell in the second half of the race allowing Audi, which was quicker in the wet, to overtake. But Peugeot was quicker again when conditions dried, until rain returned with two hours to go causing the French manufacturer’s leading car to spin while running on slicks and end all hopes of victory.

So, will fans witness something similar at Circuit de la Sarthe this year, or will it be an entirely dry contest like 1994 where temperatures soared?

2024 Le Mans 24 Hours weather forecast

Wednesday 12 June

Minimum temperature: 12C
Maximum temperature: 18C
Chance of rain: 4%

Running for the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours begins on Wednesday 12 June with two practice sessions and qualifying. First practice kickstarts the day at 2pm local time (1pm BST) and temperatures are expected to remain a constant 18C during the three-hour session with no rain anticipated - but it will not be total sunshine, as light clouds and winds from the north-west should hit the track.

Conditions are expected to remain dry for the hour-long qualifying which begins at 7pm (6pm BST), where temperatures should also stay at 18C with humidity levels of 47%. But it should be less cloudy than first practice as sunny intervals are expected, making it two years on the bounce that Le Mans has had a dry qualifying.

The second practice session is then expected to commence at sunset (10pm local, 9pm BST) meaning temperatures will inevitably drop for the two-hour running. At first, this drop should not be too significant as it is anticipated to be 15C at the beginning of practice, but come midnight it may be 12C.

This marks a 6C difference between qualifying and the end of practice, so it will be interesting to see what kind of impact this has on lap times and how representative it might be of the race. This is a crucial part of preparation as the main event is a 24-hour affair that runs through the night, so it’s important to hold a practice session late in the day.

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Thursday 13 June

Minimum temperature: 15C
Maximum temperature: 19C
Chance of rain: 1%

Thursday 13 June marks day two of running at the Le Mans 24 Hours where there are another three sessions with two practices and hyperpole. Hyperpole is what determines the different pole winners as the eight quickest cars from each category in qualifying progress to this session.

But third practice is what kicks off Thursday’s running, with cars taking to the track at 3pm (2pm BST) where the air temperature is expected to be 19C. It should remain 19C for the whole three hours with sunny intervals for the opening hour before light clouds and a gentle breeze takes over.

This means it’s also anticipated that Thursday’s running remains dry throughout with conditions staying quite hot. Come the start of hyperpole (8pm local, 7pm BST) the temperature is expected to drop though, but only to 18C and that is what it should remain at for the whole half-hour session which will take place under cloudy conditions.

Hyperpole should also be more humid than qualifying with levels at 53%, but that is still manageable. As the sun drops on Thursday, the temperatures are expected to decrease for the two-hour fourth practice which begins at 10pm (9pm BST) with the air at 17C before reducing to 15C for the session’s culmination.

Saturday 15 June

Minimum temperature: 15C
Maximum temperature: 19C
Chance of rain: 55%

Drivers will first take to the track at 12pm (11am BST) on Saturday for the race warm-up, with the 15-minute session happening in cloudy but dry conditions despite an expected light shower that morning. Conditions should also be dry and cloudy for the race start at 4pm (3pm BST), where the air temperature will be 19C alongside a high humidity level of 62%.

Sunny intervals are then expected to arrive during the first five hours of the race with the temperature ranging from 17C to 19C. However, there is still a slight chance of rain during that period and such unpredictability could have a big say in who emerges as the frontrunner at Le Mans.

This is because the 2024 World Endurance Championship has already seen a team lose victory because of rain. Ferrari led 1-2 at the 6 Hours of Imola until it was too late in pitting its cars for wet tyres during the race’s fourth hour because it thought the rain was only temporary. Regardless, this put Ferrari out of contention and handed victory to Toyota.

On Saturday when the sun starts to set around 10pm (pm BST), the temperatures will inevitably drop with it expected to be 14C in Le Mans come midnight.

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Sunday 16 June

Minimum temperature: 12C
Maximum temperature: 19C
Chance of rain: 72%

The Le Mans 24 Hours has a minimal chance of rain through the night, but temperatures will be as low as 12C during the early hours on Sunday. This is where teams might alter their aerodynamic setups to control downforce levels, as the air becomes more dense in cooler temperatures.

But as the sun rises in Le Mans at approximately 6am (5am BST), the temperature will once again increase with it expected to be 15C come 9am (8am BST). This will be a crucial point of the race for two reasons: humidity levels will be as high as 83% which tends to have a negative effect on engine performance, while 9am is when rain is expected to fall.

That rain is expected to last throughout the day, but should be nothing more than a light shower. Nevertheless, it is still important the teams are well-equipped to deal with it given Le Mans’s latter stages are when fatigue truly kicks in for teams and drivers. While the rain falls, temperatures are expected to range from 15C to 19C, with the hotter conditions coming in the final hours.

Watch: 2024 Le Mans Preview With Allan McNish – Will Porsche Take Their 20th Win?

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