In 2021, the 24 Hours of Le Mans also formally known as the 24 Heures du Mans is the 89th running annual sports car race is officially moved on 21-22 August for the first time of its traditional June date due to COVID-19 in the Le Mans history. MotorTrend Network will host the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans from Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 24 Hours of Le Mans, time, schedule, TV coverage, and more.
What time do the 24 Hours of Le Mans start?
The 89th running 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held at Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France at 9:00 pm ET/3 pm in France and 2:30 pm in Central European Time on Saturday, August 21 and will end on Sunday, August 22 at the same time in 2021.
What is Le Mans?
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an annual sports car race held since 1923, and it takes place in Le Mans, located in France. In the history of endurance racing, the 24 Hour of Le Mans is the oldest most active. Apart from the fast that is one of the oldest, it is the most prestigious auto race organized anywhere in the world. Because of the importance, this race is considered the Grad Prix of Endurance and Efficiency.
This race also is part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, as well as the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. The race is quite different from others, the winner of that race is determined by the minimum time it takes to complete the race, rather it is determined by covering the greatest distance within 24 hours.
The organization responsible for this race is the Automobile Club de request (ACO). It takes place on the Circuit de la Sarthe. This place is conducive for this race because it is a mixture of the closed roads as a dedicated racing track dedication portion. The place meets the expectation because it takes care of speed, and cars that take part must be able to be in that race for the whole day without damage or repairs.
The purpose of this race is to offer an alternative to the Grand Prix Motor racing which used to dominate the continent in motorsport. The race is to be different and it is to present a different challenge. The aim is not to test the ability of auto manufacturers to produce cars that outdo others in fastness, the aim is to test these automobile companies that make reliable and sporty cars. This is an endurance race and the aim is to manufacture vehicles that are not only strong and reliable, but such vehicles must also be fuel-efficient as well. Such cars must be reliable and they can spend more time on the road.
24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 race schedule
The 2021 running 24 Hours of Le Mans kickoff on Saturday, August 21 at 9 a.m. ET/2:30 PM in Central European Time/3 pm France, the actual race schedule begins some weeks prior to the free practice session, qualifying steps, and continues through the Sunday following the race.
Wednesday, August 18
12 p.m. ET Free practice session
4 p.m. ET First qualifying session
Thursday, August 19
1 p.m. ET Second qualifying session
4 p.m. ET Third qualifying session
Saturday, August 21
3 a.m. ET Warm-up
9 a.m. ET Race
24 Hours of Le Mans 2021: Qualifying results, entry list
Le Mans Race 2021
|Start time||9 am ET|
|Venue||Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France|
|Date||Saturday, August 21 through Sunday, August 22|
|TV channel||MotorTrend Network|
|Live stream||MotorTrend.com | Motor Trend app|
This race often takes place in June to the time the weather can become hot for drivers especially those to drive closed vehicles. This auto race usually starts around midday and it finishes at the same time it started the previous day. Within the 24 hours of that race, great vehicles can cover long distances, and some modern cars can cover a distance of over 5000m. The longest distance covered in recent times and perhaps in history was done in the year 2010, and the distance covered was 5,410km. This is estimated to be about six times more than the entire length of the Indianapolis 500. In the same way, it is 18 times more than the Formula One Grand Prix.
During the race, drivers do everything they can to avoid damage while they race to cover more distance. Besides, drivers must be interested in managing car consumables such as fuel while in that race. Moreover, race can test endurance. Here drivers have to drive for two hours before they are relieved. Three drivers will take control of each of the participating vehicles of that race.
The race is done as a team and a competing team is a class. A class has to be cars of the same specifications. Specifications in the type of cars used for the race have changed over the years. Today two types of cars are used for that and they include grand touring cars as well as prototypes.
Le Mans 2021 Cars
Specifically, designed cars are used for race competitions. The race has to take 60 competitors at a time. The car to be used for that purpose should have at least two seats. Rather it was improved and the emphasis is no more on the ability of the car to accommodate a second seat and not necessarily having that seat. Cars to be used for that race should not have more than two doors. However, open-cockpit cars to be used for that competition do need doors. The need for the roof was made mandatory in the year 2014 and that is because of safety issues.
Drivers of Le Mans
When the race started, there were no rules that govern the use of drivers or the number of drivers to be used by each car. At a time, drivers decided to pair for one car. At a time, some of the drivers to save time decided to run the race solo which means that they do not want to engage other drivers. Drivers like Eddie Hall and Levegh tried that, but that practice was later outlawed. A team of two drivers became the rule until the 1980s when that rule was changed. The rule now is that there must be three drivers for one car taking part in that competition.
The rule was further strengthened in the 1990s when the organizers observed that one of the challenges is the issue of fatigue. They decided to control that by limiting the number of hours each drive would use a car and the total distance such a driver must cover with such a car.
Traditions and unique rules
Over the years, the organizers of this race keep improving on the rules as it concerns safety. The reason for that is simple, it is because of the long distance. For many years, before cars participating in the race are required to refill, such cars must have been at least one hour in that race. This rule applies to coolant and oil and does not include fuel. This was a measure put in place to bring about the reliability and efficiency of the cars. If cars disobeyed that rule, they would no longer be allowed to continue with that race. This rule is particular to cars taking part in the race. It may not apply to other races.
Another rule that is specific to this race is that engines must be switched off at the point of refilling. This is because it makes it safer for the car and the drivers. Moreover, it can prevent fire hazards from taking place. Besides, this is another way of testing car reliability. Cars taking part in that race should be able to start without difficulties. Furthermore, while the car is refilled, mechanics are not permitted to work in that car. During the refilling, the law requires that drivers can be changed. This means that another driver can take over control of the car.
How does the Le Mans race schedule come
During the competition of 26 and 27 of May 1923, it was held in May. That was later changed and the schedule for that race was in June and this tradition persisted until the year 1956, this was the period that the race was held in July. Another year it was held in September was in 1968. There were times the race did not take place. The first time was in the year 1936 when there was a general strike due to a labor strike as a result of the Great Depression. Between the period 1940 to 1948, the race was not organized and that was because of World War 11.
It takes place in June and the period it takes place in June is the second week of that month.
When that competition was started, the winner of the race the car that covered the most distance from the starting point of that race. This has its casualty in the year 1966 when a team led by Ford was caught out. He was not the only one caught by that rule. It made the organizers of that race declare McLaren the winner because they started from the far off and this means that they have covered more distance than the competitors. That decision was unfavorable to other competitors of that race such as Denny Hulme and Miles’s victory. This was painful for the latter who has won in a competition organized in Daytona and Sebring. If he had won, he would have made history as the first man to win all the three competitions and to win them in the same year.
After that, the greatest distance rule was changed with the inclusion of a rolling start and this was in the year 1971. The winner now is that car that covered most of the distance on the final lap. This now introduced the starting line for the cars taking place in that competition.
This rule was handy in 2011 to decide the winner of the race, and that was because the two top racers completed that race within 355 laps. The difference between the two was 13 seconds. This makes it possible to bring in more rules to determine the winner. All forms of ambiguity were removed and the competition winning criteria became clearer.
Le Man’s start
The race begins with what is known as Le Mans Start. Cars to take place in the competition had to line up through the pit length. Cars used to line up based on engine quality. This was the practice until the year 1962. This rule has to change the following year which is 1963. The rules now are that car qualifying time would determine the car’s lineup.
The race starts when the French National flag drops. The drivers have to run through the track to start the race. They enter the car and begin the race without calling for assistance from anybody. However, shortly after the change of the rule, the issue of safety harness arose and there was the need to address the safety harness issue. Makers of cars used for the race decided to change the location of their ignition key to make the start safer and easier. Porsche pioneered the change by transferring the ignition key to the left. Other auto manufacturers such as Stirling Moss modified its car. This maker ensures that the gears are already engaged such that the car would zoom off on start off.
The race has to run on a circuit that is known as Circuit de la Sarthe. This is the department the competition known as Le Mans is located. The circuit consists of public roads as well as permanent tracks. During the time of that race, the road is closed for the race temporarily. Since 1923 when the race started, this track has been modified. The main reason for the modification is the issue of safety. The total length of the place is 13.626 km. Initially, the race has to get to the town of Le Mans, but with time the distance has to be reviewed and that is because of the safety of spectators.
History of 24 Hours of Le Mans
The race has its origin in May of 1923 and the event took place on the public road around Le Mans. The event was supposed to be a three-year event with a winner declared after that period. However, this could not be as a winner would always emerge at the end of each competition. It is no longer a question of a three-year consecutive race after which a winner is to emerge.
This idea was abandoned in the year 1928. When that race started, the French, Italian as well as British drivers were in control because they dominated the whole thing. At that time the dominating auto brands include Bugatti, Bentley as well as Alfa Romeo. The benefit of these is that automakers began to improve on their auto quality and innovative cars started to dominate the stage in the 1930s. During that era, the aerodynamic bodywork was led by the brand known as Mulsanne Straight. They have the edge when it comes to speed.
In the year 1936, that race could not go on and that was because of the general strike in France that paralyzed everywhere. The war that broke in 1939 did not help things either as the race was completely abandoned only to be resumed in the year 1949.
The race could not resume until the circuit facilities were done. This stimulated the interest of automakers to improve their quality. It was not surprising that at this time innovative cars were introduced. Besides, many other auto manufacturers started showing interest and this increased the number of vehicles taking part in that competition.
Within the period 1970 to the next decade, the emphasis changed to speed, as well as the auto designs. Because of the change in emphasis, some older models were replaced with modern ones. This era was dominated by the Porsche brand.
This brand continued to dominate for the rest of the 1980s. More vehicles were introduced and started to take part in that competition. Different kinds of cars have always dominated that competition for each epoch. The most notable change was made in the period 1990s. The innovations in rules and auto participation continue to improve until today.
Aerodynamics of 24 Hours of Le Mans
The major means of succeeding in the competition is speed. Cars have to be on top speed for them to succeed. Cars do not rely on downforce to dominate the race instead they depend on their speed. In the early days of that competition, cars taking part in that race were the same thing as streetcars. Most of the bodywork was removed to do away with weight and to accelerate speed. The Bugatti introduction to the race marks a remarkable departure from the old order and new cars are more aerodynamics. The name of that first car was called tanks and that is because of their resemblance to a military tank.
Le Mans Engines
Over the years the type of engines that were used for the race continued to improve. The improvement in the engine is to help the cars run at the best speed. Moreover, there was an emphasis on fuel economy. The size of engines that were used for that over the years has to increase. Engine size has to improve speed and output. The major concern here was how to improve speed.
Apart from the improvement in speed, there was also concern about fuel economy, the cars were more efficient when it comes to fuel economy. A car that was run without an engine, which means that such cars were run by the piston and it happened in the year 1963. It was a time gas turbine was used as fuel in an attempt to make it more efficient. There was also another non-piston engine such as the Wankel engine and so on. Moreover, with time there was an emphasis on cars that can run without fuel. The first of such was introduced in the year 1949.
Le Mans braking system
Because the emphasis was high speed, there is no way one cannot pay strong emphasis on the fuel. Drivers need a car with effective braking such that when they negotiate Mulsanne corner, there should be an effective and the braking system that was implemented at that time was the disc brakes. This was the case up to the 1950s and 1960s.
Most successful marques and drivers for Le Mans
Since the inception of this race, many brands have done well because they have won the race. In the history of that competition, the most successful marque remains the Porsche. Over the years, the brand has won about nineteen times. There was a time they won seven times consecutively and that was between 1981 to the period 1987.
Others include Audi which has won that race 13 times and they are followed by Ferrari and they have won that competition at least nine times. Out of that, they won five in a row. Audi has participated for 15 years and they have won 13 times. This means that they are currently dominating that competition. There are other winners such as Jaguar that has won it seven times while other brands such as Alfa Romeo and Bentley have won it four times. Toyota won in the year 2018 making them the second Japanese brand to win.
The race has encountered several accidents. This is because of the high speed with which they run. The worst of such accidents was in the year 1955 when more than 80 people including fans were killed as a result of an accident. That accident also led to the death of the driver of that car. This disaster led to the cancelation of some of the races. Because of that disaster, there was a need to improve the safety of the riders, and actions were taken about that.
Another horrific accident was in the year 1972. This accident led to the death of the driver. If you check the records, you notice that in the 1980s there were a series of accidents that happened. To prevent such accidents, some measures were taken and some of them include the Armco barrier which was installed around the year 1969. Different cars were involved in this series of accidents.
Appearance in media
24 Hours of Le Mans is very popular in the media. In the year 1964, the race has won a lot in the academy award when it wins Un Homme et Une Femme. This incident was sympathetic because the wife of one of the contestants had to take her own life when she thought that her husband was involved in an accident and that he has died. That event of 1969 was popularized by the press such that a DVD or a movie was made on that. This film is available on different platforms.
Even the race and competition of 1971, that was shot in the form and films like that were produced and the firms were similar to Grand Prix formula one and so on. This race has gained international recognition and anytime it is up, it is widely watched in different mediums.
The race is now widely covered not only in France, Europe but it is now covered in other parts of the world. Motors TV covers this race and other similar races. The coverage covers different things which include driver parade, qualifying, scrutineering, as well as a warm-up, and finally the race itself. Even the speed channel owns by Fox also does an extensive review of the program. Moreover, French broadcasters and other regional and national broadcast channels cover this race. Eurosport also covers it.
How to watch 24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 live stream on MotorTrend Network
AT&T TV: Internet Protocol television
Hulu with Live TV: Internet Protocol television
Sling TV: Internet Protocol television
YouTube TV: Internet Protocol television
Parent organization: Discovery for Canada
ACO now allows the Le Mans to become part of the full circuit. The exhibition races use classic cars especially those that participated in the race previously. During vintage racing, the part era of cars that were used in the Le Mans can become part of that race. The drivers that are used for this are not real professionals, they are amateur drivers. There are instances where professionals including those that had participated in other races are becoming part of the team.