Safety Cars Ran Out of Fuel During the Four-Hour Weather Delay at Le Mans

24 hours of le mans 2024 race
Safety Car Run Out of Fuel During Le Mans Delay James Moy Photography - Getty Images

With 10 hours and 36 minutes remaining in the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans early Sunday morning, the three safety cars were running low on fuel. They had already been shepherding racers around the 13.646 km Circuit de la Sarthe for nearly two hours, with another two hours in front of them.

Even the safety car drivers were done with the extended non-racing period. With the longest safety car period in Le Mans history, we now know how long the safety cars can last.

It appeared that the first safety car slowed to a halt on track without reason; it was already in the works for 'Safety Car D' to come and replace it. From there, a domino effect would start with A charging up, replacing B, and so on to begin the next segment of the Safety Car period.


When Safety Car A initially slowed, the Eurosport, English-speaking announcers explained that there was no cause for alarm.

"We’re about to swap safety cars, with the safety cars running out of fuel," the broadcast announced. "Hence why this safety car is stopping. Another one, much like it will reappear and it will appear normal in a few seconds time."

Between the three major safety car periods, first for the No. 15 BMW crash, then early morning rain, and finally the Heart of Racing Aston Martin rollover, there were six-plus hours run under the safety car.

For those not familiar with Endurance racing, the safety car procedure is safe... but long. It's changed in recent years, so the circuit provided fans with a refresher prior to this year's race.

There are three cars deployed simultaneously and spread out to marshall the entire field. It goes through four stages, starting with Intervention, which is when all cars continue to run single file and spread out, avoiding any problem areas at low speed. During this time, cars are free to pit, and teams are allowed to do minimal work on the cars. When finished, they wait to rejoin the field behind the next safety car. This is often the longest period of the safety car and when the Porsche's began to fatigue.

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