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IndyCar's 2025 Schedule Poses a Big Problem for Le Mans Drivers

24 hours of le mans 2024 practice and qualifying
IndyCar's Schedule Conflicts With Le Mans in 2025James Moy Photography - Getty Images

In the first two years of the new golden age of hypercar racing at Le Mans, IndyCar has taken care to leave the weekend of the 24-hour classic open. That has allowed major talents from the American racing series to race in the top class; this year, four drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 will run in the Le Mans Hypercar class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The timing has been a boon to both parties... but that benefit seems to be over.

Both IndyCar and the Le Mans-sanctioning World Endurance Championship revealed their calendars this week, and IndyCar has scheduled a race in the St. Louis market during the 2025 running of Le Mans.

Alex Palou, the reigning IndyCar champion and a debuting driver for Cadillac in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, is one of the six drivers that has entered both IndyCar rounds and the French classic. In a conversation with Road & Track ahead of his first Le Mans, Palou called the overlap "terrible."

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"Hopefully [IndyCar] changes it, because I think it's a joke that we overlap with one of the biggest races in the world, especially when we can avoid it."

Palou's teammate Scott Dixon, a six-time champion of the IndyCar series and another Cadillac driver in this year's 24-hour race, has experienced years where he could run Le Mans and years where he could not. 2023 marked his first realistic chance at an overall win, but 2024 may be his last. Dixon tells R&T that the decision is "not good," then noted that issues with test scheduling had already made running Le Mans in 2024 a challenge.

"We went through a lot of drama this year, we had an IndyCar test on the Tuesday of this week that they moved for some of us to a later date. I think the spotlight, how hard we had to work with the ACO for this complication this year, that they would know the date for next year," he said. "It's frustrating, obviously, my real job is racing IndyCar, so that schedule takes precedence, but I figured through most of the years they tried to give leeway for Le Mans, Daytona, and Sebring. A lot of us drivers like to have that crossover, so it's a bummer."

The decision comes less than a month after NASCAR driver Kyle Larson showed the power of talent crossing over by running the Indianapolis 500. Larson was forced to wait two weeks to find out if he was eligible for the NASCAR playoffs after missing the Coca-Cola 600 on Indy 500 day — an awkward situation that should have shown the importance of allowing drivers the freedom to race in the biggest races in the world. Instead, IndyCar seems to have fallen back on an old problem that was seemingly already solved.

Palou and Dixon sit in second and third, respectively, in the IndyCar standings. Romain Grosjean, a driver for Lamborghini in this year's race, is currently 16th. IndyCar participants Kyffin Simpson, Nolan Siegel, and Callum Ilott are also entered in the race less than a month after entering the Indianapolis 500. At the moment, all six drivers would have to choose between either entering a full IndyCar season... or contesting the world's biggest endurance race.

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