Coronavirus forces 2020 Le Mans 24 to be postponed

The Le Mans 24 Hours has been postponed from June to September as a result of the worsening coronavirus pandemic

A new date for the World Endurance Championship finale of 19-20 September has been announced for an event originally set for 13-14 June by race organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

ACO president Pierre Fillon said: "Postponing Le Mans 24 Hours from the original dates in June is now the most appropriate way forward in the current exceptional circumstances.

"First and foremost, I urge everyone to avoid putting themselves, their loved ones and others at risk: the most important thing today is to curtail the spread of this virus."

The new date means that there will be a delay to 2020/21 WEC season, which was due to kick off at Silverstone on September 5.

Fillon explained that new dates for season nine of the WEC and this year's European Le Mans Series, which has already cancelled its opening two races at Barcelona and Monza in April and May respectively, will be announced shortly.

He added that the "safety and quality of our events will not be compromised".

The exact schedule for Le Mans week will be part of this announcement, according to the ACO statement.

No reference was made to the Le Mans test day, originally scheduled for 31 May, in the release nor to the likelihood of the postponed Spa round of the 2019/20 WEC being rescheduled.

The announcement follows a statement from Fillon on Monday afternoon saying that a decision would be communicated on 15 April whether the 88th running of Le Mans would go ahead in June or be delayed.

This was followed hours later by the imposition by the French government of stringent measures iin an attempt to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Moving Le Mans into the late summer will require a wholesale rejig of the 2020/21 WEC calendar.

The Silverstone opener was to be followed by a race at Monza on October 4 before the first non-European race at Fuji on November 1.

Rescheduling Le Mans to later in the year is not unprecedented: the 1968 race was moved back to September 28/29 as a result of the civil unrest in France in May.

Away from WEC, Le Man's postponement does not bode well for the MotoGP French Grand Prix due to staged at the legendary venue's Bugatti circuit on 15-17 May.

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