French wine industry to help fuel WEC and Le Mans cars

The World Endurance Championship (WEC) and its Le Mans 24 Hours showcase event will switch in 2022 to a 100% renewable fuel derived partly from French wine industry residues, organisers announced on Friday.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which runs Le Mans, said TotalEnergies would provide a fuel with a bioethanol base, derived from wine lees and grape pomace and blended with an ethanol by-product from feedstock.

“This fuel should allow an immediate reduction of at least 65% of the racing cars´ CO2 emissions,” it added in a statement ahead of this weekend’s 89th running of the race at the Sarthe circuit.

“It will have all the required qualities for a racing fuel and will meet automakers’ requirements, as well as the latest FIA criteria for sustainable fuels.”

The fuel used at this year’s Le Mans is already made up of 10% advanced bioethanol.

“Endurance racing… has always served as an excellent research and development platform and it is an important milestone to have the FIA World Endurance Championship switching to 100% sustainable fuel,” said Jean Todt, president of the sport’s governing body.

“It´s FIA´s major goal to implement sustainable energy sources across its portfolio of motor sport disciplines,” added the Frenchman.

The FIA also announced that Le Mans would return to its traditional June date next year after two editions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world championship will start in Sebring, Florida, on March 18 and end in Bahrain on Nov. 12. Le Mans will be on June 11-12.

The FIA said the championship had taken into account “the financial and economic implications as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic” in deciding to stick with six rounds for 2022. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin