A cast of top drivers will race in a virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans in June but the postponed real-life version must also happen this year, even if without spectators, World Endurance Championship (WEC) boss Gerard Neveu said on Monday.
The race at the Sarthe circuit in north-west France, now in its 88th edition, is the crowning glory of the WEC season and was attended by 250,000 people in 2019 with a large number coming from Britain.
It has been rescheduled from June 13-14 to Sept 19-20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but whether it will be held on those dates, and with a crowd, remains an open question.
"Will it be a regular event or an event behind closed doors? It’s impossible to say now," Neveu told Reuters in a Zoom interview.
"When you organise Le Mans, you want to organise Le Mans with the public because Le Mans is more than the race. It is really a celebration that you share with a lot of people. It’s a very special event.
"It would be very frustrating if we have to do it behind closed doors."
The WEC chief executive said the key thing was to guarantee the race, which is run by the Automobile Club de L'Ouest who set the dates, would happen because many teams had built their business model around it.
"If we cannot organise this race we will considerably affect and damage the business model and stability of many teams, many competitors," he said.
"I am not speaking about the manufacturers, I think they have the capacity to jump from one year to another. But for the majority of the private teams it will be seriously a big problem."