- Le Mans 24 Hours action [Copyright: FIA World Endurance Championship]

The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) has revealed new 'Hyperpole' qualifying format for the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours event.

The traditional qualifying session for the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours will see a change as per the announcement from WEC. On Wednesday, from 23:15 to 00:00, there will be a 45-minute session when all entries in the race will take to the track at the same time.

At the end of this qualifying session, 24 competitors – the six best in each class – will go on to compete in a new 'Hyperpole' session on the following day when the first six places on the grid will be determined for each categories.

So, the Thursday session from 21:00-21:30, the 24 cars (six LMP1s, six LMP2s, six LMGTE Pros and six LMGTE Ams) will all head out on track to set fastest time and they will not be permitted to return to their garages but will have a free tyre choice.

This is how the sessions will pan out:

Wednesday

15:30–20:00: free practice

22:00–23:00: free practice

23:15–24:00: qualifying

Thursday

17:00–19:00: free practice

21:00–21:30: Hyperpole

22:00–24:00: free practice

Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO, said: "It’s all change at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans. With this new qualifying format and the Hyperpole showdown for the fastest 24 competitors – six from each of the four classes – we are guaranteeing two exciting sessions for both drivers and spectators, where all the focus will be on sheer speed in a quest for the perfect lap.

"Adrenalin, suspense and concentration will be at a max for every team out there. It will be a thrilling prelude to the ensuing 24-hour battle on our iconic 13 km track. Le Mans will once again be a celebration of racing that goes on for several days, and not just a weekend."

The release also explained how the entries for 2020 and 2021 WEC Le Mans 24 Hours will work:

"As usual, the entry list for the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans will be drawn up by the Selection Committee. They will first validate the invitations already allotted and the entries from the WEC grid, before studying the applications submitted between now (18 December) and 13 February.

The number of applications increases every year but we already know nine names on the entry list, based on the results of the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, the European Le Mans Series, the Michelin Le Mans Cup and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship:

Toyota Gazoo Racing: winners in the LMP1 class at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans. Invited to compete in LMP1;

Signatech Alpine Matmut: winners in the LMP2 class at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans. Invited to compete in LMP2;

AF Corse: winners in the LMGTE Pro class at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans. Invited to compete in LMGTE Pro;

Team Project 1: winners in the LMGTE Am class at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans. Invited to compete in LMGTE Am;

IDEC Sport: winners in the LMP2 class in the European Le Mans Series. Invited to compete in LMP2;

G-Drive Racing: runners-up in the LMP2 class in the European Le Mans Series. Invited to compete in LMP2;

The LMP2 invitation extended to the winners of the LMP3 class in the European Le Mans Series is pending confirmation (subject to appeal).

Luzich Racing: winners in the LMGTE class in the European Le Mans Series. Invited to compete in LMGTE (*);

Dempsey-Proton Racing: second in the LMGTE class in the European Le Mans Series. Invited to compete in LMGTE (*);

Kessel Racing: winners in the GT3 class in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. Invited to compete in LMGTE Am;

Two invitations are also awarded at the discretion of the organisers of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. (*) The competitor can choose to field either a Pro or an Am entry.

Four more invitations will be extended based on the outcome of the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series finale in Buriram (Thailand) on 23 February. They will be allotted as follows:

-the winners of the LMP2 class will be invited to compete in LMP2 at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans;

-the winners of the LMP2 Am class will be invited to compete in LMP2 or LMGTE Am;

-the winners of the LMP3 class will be invited to compete in LMP2 or LMGTE Am;

-the winners of the GT3 class will be invited to compete in LMGTE Am.

"Full-season FIA WEC entrants will also feature on the grid at the 88th Le Mans 24 Hours because the legendary endurance race is the final round of the 2019-20 WEC season. The grid will be completed by the teams selected among the applications submitted as of today."

INVITATIONS TO THE 2021 24 HOURS OF LE MANS

"For the 89th Le Mans 24 Hours, to be held on 12–13 June 2021, the invitation process will be somewhat different. In the European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series, invitations will be based on the number of cars fielded in each category:

"In the European Le Mans Series, in LMP2, one LMP2 invitation will be awarded to the winner on a grid of between 6 and 11 cars; two invitations will be awarded to the winner and runner-up on a grid of between 12 and 17 cars.

"In LMGTE, one LMGTE invitation will be awarded to the winner on a grid of between 4 and 7 cars; two invitations will be awarded to the winner and runner-up on a grid of between 8 and 11 cars. The winner in LMP3 will receive an invitation to compete in LMP2.

"In the Asian Le Mans Series, the same procedure will apply in LMP2 and in GT3. The winner in LMP3 will also receive an invitation. Based on the results of the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, there will be:

-one invitation awarded to the winner of the LMP2 class.

-one invitation to the winner of the LMGTE Am class.

"These changes mean that the number of invitations for European Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series competitors will be proportional to the size of the grid in those championships. There are no changes to the invitations extended to the winner of Michelin Le Mans Cup or those awarded to IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship competitors."

[Image courtesy: FIA World Endurance Championship] [Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]

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