New 'Hyperpole' Le Mans 24 Hours qualifying format to be introduced

A new qualifying format dubbed 'Hyperpole' will set the top positions on the grid for next year's Le Mans 24 Hours

New 'Hyperpole' Le Mans 24 Hours qualifying format to be introduced

The top six cars in each of the four classes during a 45-minute qualifying period on Wednesday will go forward to the half-hour Hyperpole session on Thursday ahead of next year's World Endurance Championship finale on June 13-14.

The 24 cars that make it through to this shootout session will be allowed one run because they will not be permitted to return to their pit during the 30 minutes.

Teams will have free choice of tyres within the existing allocation for qualifying and the race.

Wednesday qualifying will take place between 11.15pm and midnight, while the Hyperpole procedure will run from 9pm and 9.30pm the following day.

Pierre Fillon, president of Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, explained that the new format was aimed at "guaranteeing two exciting sessions for both drivers and spectators, where all the focus will be on sheer speed in a quest for the perfect lap".

"Adrenalin, suspense and concentration will be at a max for every team out there," he said.

"It will be a thrilling prelude to the ensuing 24-hour battle on our iconic 13km track.

"Le Mans will once again be a celebration of racing that goes on for several days, and not just a weekend."

The new Hyperpole procedure replaces the previous format that involved six hours of qualifying in three two-hour sessions across Wednesday and Thursday.

Free practice will now begin at 3.30pm on Wednesday with a session lasting four and a half hours and will continue with another short session before first qualifying.

Two further practice sessions will sandwich Hyperpole qualifying on Thursday.

The Le Mans 24 Hours is reverting to its traditional 4pm start time next year from 3pm.

Le Mans 2020 practice and qualifying

Wednesday, June 10
Free practice: 15:30-20:00
Free practice: 22:00-23:00
Qualifying: 23:15-24:00

Thursday, June 11
Free practice: 17:00-19:00
Hyperpole 21:00-21:30
Free practice: 22:00-24:00

The ACO has also confirmed the first batch of entries for Le Mans, in addition to full-season WEC competitors.

The class winners at Le Mans in 2019, who are all WEC regulars, receive a so-called guaranteed entry.

The top two in LMP2 and GTE in the European Le Mans Series also receive entries.

They are IDEC Sport and G-Drive Racing in LMP2, and Luzich Racing and Demspey-Proton Racing in GTE.

The winner of the GT3 class in the Le Mans Cup support series on the ELMS undercard, Kessel Racing, gains a GTE-Am entry.

The final result of the LMP3 championship in the ELMS remains subject to appeal, so the destination of the guaranteed entry has yet to be confirmed.

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