With the effects of the pandemic, holidays overseas allowed again, and the world generally seeming to be moving on, it's seems almost impossible to realise that the arguably biggest endurance race on the planet (other races are available!) is actually starting THIS SUNDAY!
Therefore, with that in mind, here's a few items to outline what to expect and when.
Sunday 15th August - Testday
To minimise team costs and movement, the testday is being held just 3 days before practice and qualifying begins. Two practice sessions will given the teams nine hours of time to adjust their cars to the rigours of the French public roads. Sadly this will be behind closed doors and is not being filmed for live broadcast, but the sessions can be followed live by listening online to the Radio Le Mans team (www.radiolemans.co), led as ever by the passionate commentary of John Hindhaugh.
Wednesday 18th August
The day starts with a morning of support race practice sessions, for the Fun Cup and Race to Le Mans groups, and then the afternoon is given over to official practice 1 for the 24 hours. The evening sessions include an one hour qualifying session for the 24 Hours, as well as a 2 hour night time session to round off the day.
Thursday 19th August
Again, the morning is given over to support race activity, the LM24 cars coming out for a 3 hour session during the afternoon. The first race of the weekend is a 55 minute Road to Le Mans, and this is followed by Hyperpole, where the 6 fastest in each of the LM24 classes shoot for the pole in their class in a 30 minute session. This is followed by a final session in the darkness, allowing for the last adjustments and tests before the weekend.
Friday 20th August
A day for the support races. Highlights include the race for the Endurance Racing Legends, and a 5 hour race enduro for the VW Beetle based Fun Cup.
Saturday 21st August
Warm-up for the LM24 has been moved to mid-morning, allowing the teams and crews to grab a couple of extra hours sleep, but reducing recovery time should things go wrong in the session! Support races for the Porsche Sprint Challenge, Endurance Racing Legends and Road to Le Mans complete the programme, leaving just one race to go:-
The Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans, or the Grand Prix D'Endurance
The start time has been moved to a 4PM start, and the teams will have to contend with an extra 2 hours of darkness, compared with when the race is held in June. The local weather forecast is suggesting temperature variants of 27'C at start time, 12'C overnight, and 29'C at the finish.
For UK viewers, the whole race will be broadcast live once again on Eurosport.
On WEDNESDAY 18 AUGUST, Qualifying will be on from 18:45 to 20:10 and Free Practice 2 will be shown from 21:50 to 00:10.
On THURSDAY 19 AUGUST, viewers will be able to watch Free Practice 3 from 13:50 to 17:10, Hyperpole from 20:50 to 21:45 and Free Practice 4 from 21:45 to 00:10.
On SATURDAY 21 AUGUST, the warm-up will be televised from 09:15 to 10:00. There will then be live coverage of the entire 24-hour race.