With Porsche first, and now Chevrolet backing out of racing its new mid-engine Corvette C8.R at this year’s upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans over covid-19 outbreak concerns, it’s seeming more and more likely that race will end up being canceled.
Last week, Porsche pulled its Porsche GT Team from racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class, and now it’s GM with the Corvette, via Racer Magazine:
Corvette Racing has withdrawn its new mid-engine C8.Rs from September’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The decision follows a similar one from the Porsche GT Team, Corvette’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans rivals, which confirmed its exit from the French endurance racing classic last week. RACER has also learned the ACO, organizers of the Le Mans event, were notified of the team’s change of plans weeks ago.
Both withdrawals come in reaction to the impact made by the coronavirus. With numerous furloughs and layoffs affecting the domestic and international auto industry, the calls to cut expensive international marketing campaigns like those involving trips to Le Mans fits the need to reduce expenditures.
To be clear, Porsche had planned for four cars to race. While it’s pulled its two IMSA cars from competing, its two WEC cars are still entered.
This year’s big Le Mans race is currently scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 19. It takes a lot to stop this race. In the past, only extreme economic hardship in Europe, and then the outbreak of World War II, have made enough of an impact to stop the race.
As Racer points out, it seems teams are quitting this year’s race not necessarily completely out of health concerns for their racing teams who have to travel, but the novel coronavirus has likely caused complications in preparing for the race. I like the reason Racer points out better though, which is that it’d look pretty damn rude to go have fun racing some cars in Europe while millions of Americans are potentially still freshly unemployed, and thousands more have died.
But I don’t think it would have been a big deal if teams hadn’t quit. Le Mans has always been about overcoming hardship—that’s literally the theme of the race. Then again, it’s possible the world will still be steeped in pandemic-related issues surrounding public gatherings and logistics. Even if not, September will likely still be very soon after we’ve sized up the mess left by covid-19 and are only beginning to recover. Canceling the race would be the responsible thing to do.
There’s always next year.