At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the start procedure is a show in itself, and spectators, drivers and team members alike revel in the spectacle. Tensions continue to mount from around 13:00 until the traditional start time at 15:00 (although this year, the 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 14:30 on Saturday 19 September).
The mechanics push their cars into position on the starting grid to the roar of spectators in the pit straight grandstands. Then the defending winners symbolically put their trophy back into play before the teams line up in front of their cars as La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, plays across the circuit. Shortly thereafter, a French Army helicopter drops parachutists onto the track so they may provide the starter (H.S.H. Princess Charlène of Monaco in 2019) with the French flag to wave at the start. Lastly, the Patrouille de France flies over the pit straight, leaving behind a stunning stream of blue, white and red smoke. Porsche GT Team driver Kévin Estre said during a live Instagram session set up by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: "Just like Scrutineering and the Drivers' Parade, the start procedure is a magical moment at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I truly enjoy the moment."
This year, the 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on 19-20 September, with the start scheduled at 14:30. This time was selected by sponsors and competitors as it will allow for more daylight as the sun sets around 20:00 in mid-September (as opposed to 22:00 in June).
TONY PARKER AND MISSION H24 SPOTLIGHTED AT THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS VIRTUAL
The start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual is scheduled for 15:00 local time today. For the formation lap, the cars will be positioned double file. The cars will follow the pace of the starter car for a full lap until it enters pit lane. The hydrogen-electric LMPH2G prototype, designed by GreenGT and developed in-race by the H24Racing team, will open the track to the 50 competitors. Driven virtually by development driver Olivier Lombard and sim racer Aurélien Mallet, the LMPH2G will also serve as a safety car during race neutralisations.
Former professional basketball player and huge motorsport enthusiast, Tony Parker, will be the official starter, directing the drivers to "start your engines" and then waving the French flag to kick off the race.
The drivers tasked with the first stint of the race are sure to be ready to do battle as of the very first laps.
BREAKING NEWS: THE 2020 24 HOURS OF LE MANS TO BE RACED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS