June of 2020 will not bring with it the unique French pomp and circumstance we have come to associate with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Mulsanne straight will remain quiet, there will be no engines roaring through the Porsche curves. Sunrise on the 14th of June will not have any further significance than just another rotation of our planet. The greatest endurance race the world has ever known will not happen in June. The official word is that it will be postponed until September 20th.
“Postponing the 24 Hours of Le Mans from the original dates in June is now the most appropriate way forward in the current exceptional circumstances,” said Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. “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. Our thoughts go out to medical staff working relentlessly for the sake of us all.
The postponement of the 24 Hours of Le Mans means making changes to the WEC and ELMS calendars and we shall announce the new dates shortly. The safety and quality of our events will not be compromised. Competitors, sponsors, fans, media, medical services and organisers – it is time to pull together, more than ever before”
It is the right decision to postpone the race, though I fear that this postponement will be moot in the coming months. Any race postponed may soon be forced to convert into a cancellation. It is entirely possible that the 24 Hour race will not run in 2020, despite having been a part of the calendar for the last seventy-one years. Since World War II, it has run uninterrupted.
We are still at least 18 months away from a vaccine for this COVID-19 scourge, and our lives must change—perhaps permanently—in order to limit its toll. This will not be the work of a few weeks. This likely won’t be cleared up in a couple of months. We have a long way to go before things can go back to “normal” and it’s for the best if we all realise that now.
These massive institutions of our lives are not here for us when we most need them. Any moment now we will see a postponement notice from the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. Motorsport just isn’t worth carrying out this year, unfortunately. The toll it would take on our lives, infrastructures, and institutions would be too great. More and more, 2020 is looking like it will be the year that was not.
Onward, to Le Mans 2021. Perhaps.