Fuel strike in France could disrupt 24 Hours of Le Mans

A placard reading "20 liters maximum, no jerrican, no portative containers" has been set at a gas station in Rennes, western France, on May 25, 2016, as widespread blockades of oil depots - as part of strikes over labor reforms - could led to an oil shortage. With a fifth of petrol stations in France running low, police moved in to break a blockade at the depot of Douchy-les-Mines near the Belgian border that had been in place since Thursday.

DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

A shortage of fuel caused by strikes and protests in France could impact next weekend’s Le Mans Test Day, and potentially – if unresolved – the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

Unions have blocked oil refineries across the nation, either through protests or strikes, over reforms of employment law, leading to mass shortages of gasoline and diesel for motorists in large parts of the country.

According to a report from the Independent, one-quarter of France’s gasoline stations were closed or running short of fuel as of Wednesday morning.

Additional strikes and/or protests on electricity at nuclear power plants, as well as the country’s rail network have also been planned this week.

The Independent reports that the government has dismissed any possibility of disruption of the Euro 2016 soccer championship, which is set to begin in France on June 10, one week prior to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic is still more than three weeks away, the official test day – mandatory for all teams and new drivers competing in the race – is scheduled for June 5.

Media reports indicate there are concerns the dispute could continue for “many days” and could worsen.

Reuters, meanwhile, reports that France has mobilized its fuel reserves, for the first time since the last major refinery strike in 2010. It’s unclear how much fuel they have in reserve.

It’s not the first time there have been strikes in France around June, potentially disrupting travel to and from Le Mans, the most recent being a nationwide rail strike impacting many high-speed trains in 2014.