Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans announced Thursday that this year's running of the French endurance classic has been delayed until the weekend starting August 21.
The race, which serves as the highlight event of the World Endurance Championship, was originally scheduled to run the weekend starting June 12.
The organizers decided to delay the race as by the August date there is a better chance a public audience will be allowed to attend.
Last year's race was held without spectators and sticking to the original June date for this year's race would likely have meant another year without the public, based on the current outlook for Covid-19 restrictions in France.
No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans
“Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable,” Pierre Fillon, president of race organizer ACO, said in a statement. “We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season.”
While the Le Mans race has lacked some excitement in recent years due to Toyota being the only automaker in the premier LMP1 class, things will heat up this year with the new Le Mans Hypercar class replacing LMP1 as the top class.
In LMH, Toyota will go up against America's Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and Germany's ByKolles this year. Peugeot is set to join the fray most likely in 2022 and Ferrari has said it will be there in 2023. Porsche will also be there in 2023, albeit in the separate LMDh class sanctioned by IMSA.
Pre-season testing for the 2021 WEC season is scheduled for March 30-31 at Portugal's Portimao racetrack. The opening round will be held on April 4, also at Portimao.