The date change for this years 24 Hours of Le Mans is just one of the huge changes in the 2020 motorsports season.
The changes are of course due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which is challenging for all teams, who are planning to participate in the race.
Among the competing teams, is a good handful of American teams, who usually participate in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. That will be quite some logistically troubled weeks for all the teams, since they will race at WeatherTech Racing Laguna Seca only two weeks prior to the big race. Only one week after the French classic, they will be racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Since the post-race scrutineering happens on the Monday following the race, it will cost the teams another day of preparation time.
Racing24-7.net has been in contact with the 5 affected teams, who will do the double of IMSA and France in 2020.
Risi Competizione will enter a Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTE Pro category this year. They have informed us, that they are not planning to do a full IMSA programme anyway, but only had Daytona 24 Hours in January, Sebring 12 Hours (now in November instead of the original March date) and the Le Mans race on their 2020 schedule. The car is currently at the team base in Houston, and ready to be shipped to France.
WeatherTech Racing will participate in the GTE Am category at Le Mans, and in the GTD category in IMSA. They inform us that this date change won’t be a huge challenge for them. They bought a Ferrari 488 GTE ahead of the 2019 race, which only has done the 24-hour race in France so far. It was transported back to the Bacchelli & Villa workshop in Italy, which is connected to Scuderia Corsa- the outfit running WeatherTech Racing and their Ferrari in IMSA. So it’s safe and dry there, ready for the 2020 race. The Ferrari 488 model is one of the few that is possible to convert from GT3 (GTD) to GTE spec in the matter of a few hours in the workshop, but the team opted to buy a GTE car specifically for this event. If the dates hadn’t been changed, they would have done Detroit on Saturday afternoon, with the test day at Le Mans being run Sunday morning – so that would make it impossible to use both cars anyway – and the test day is mandatory for all cars. The test day is however cancelled in 2020 due to the rescheduling.
Corvette Racing has the challenge where they are racing the brand new C8. R model, which only got its debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January. There are currently only 3 chassis’ available – the two IMSA cars, and the car which participated in the FIA WEC race at COTA in February. That car was originally scheduled to do the 1000 Miles of Sebring WEC in March, but since that race was cancelled, they have only done a single FIA WEC event with the car so far. But there is close to half a year until Le Mans, so there is a chance to manufacture one more chassis, so they have two cars for Le Mans, while one of the IMSA cars can be shipped to France as a back-up, in case one of the chassis’ are damaged during Wednesday or Thursday running. Corvette Racing learned in the hard way back in 2015, where Jan Magnussen was unlucky to shunt the car on Thursday evening, and with no spare chassis, they had to pull the car from the race – a race that the sister car ended up winning. The manufacturing of a fourth chassis is also depending on more cash for Pratt & Miller to do so, who is running the GTE/GTLM programme for Corvette. They usually run on a very tight budget, with Doug Fehan having to negotiate for a long duration, to get a bit extra budget for the programmes. Corvette Racing did send a reply to our request, but has no comments on neither their Le Mans nor their IMSA programmes at the moment, but will focus on keeping all their employees and their families within the racing programme, and GM in general, safe and healthy.
Porsche hasn’t replied on our requests just yet. They are however unlikely to be short on Porsche cars, with currently two FIA WEC cars, and two IMSA cars plus at least one test car in existence. They introduced a new version of the 911 RSR for the 2019/20 season in the FIA WEC, which barely has anything in common with its predecessor, that they have raced for the last couple of seasons. That model will be introduced in the GTE Am category for the 2020/21 season, so they will be building some more cars of that configuration anyway. So they are very likely to bring a couple of brand new cars to France, for the IMSA part of the team to run, so they don’t have to worry about shipping their IMSA cars to France, with such a tight schedule. We are quite sure, that Proton Competition or Team Project 1 won’t say no to a small discount on a chassis or two, with a bit of Le Mans history.
Performance Tech Motorsports is the final American team who planned to race in France. They haven’t come back to us either so far. They have the dilemma of just having a single ORECA 07 Gibson LMP2 chassis, which they use in the IMSA series. It can be quite a struggle for them to push it into a container at Laguna Seca, ship it to France, do the 24-hour race and ship it back to Mid-Ohio, to run that race. An option for them would be to rent a car for the 24-hour race, which is their debut in France as well. They won the spot thanks to Cameron Cassels winning the Jim Trueman Award, for being the best Bronze rated driver in LMP2 during the 2019 season. Only Cassels is confirmed in the car so far, so they need another two drivers for their trip to France. But they did accept the spot initially for the June day – but it all has to make logistical and economical sense.
Rick Ware Racing won a Le Mans ticket by securing the Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 Am title, but their final plans regarding drivers nor car choice haven’t been confirmed by the team. They were supposed to race in the Daytona 24 Hours, but the car was crashed at the test, and was pulled from the entry list.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans 2020 is scheduled to run on 19-20 September.