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REUTERS - Formula One chairman and chief executive Chase Carey will be the official starter of the 85th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race this weekend, organisers said on Friday.
The 62-year-old American, who will wave the French flag to signal the start of the endurance classic at the Sarthe circuit, follows on from Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt who did the honours last year.
Ford executive chairman Bill Ford was Le Mans starter in 2015 while NASCAR's Jim France was handed the role in 2013. The late Steve McQueen waved the flag in 1971, the year he starred in the movie "Le Mans".
"By starting the race side by side, we will be demonstrating the new ties forged between the ACO and Formula One," said Automobile Club de l'Ouest president Pierre Fillon, who will join Carey.
"With Chase Carey as head of Formula One, the time has come to work together on the sporting calendar, to ensure fans can follow the Grand Prix and endurance racing seasons and enjoy both disciplines to the full."
Carey has been in full charge of Formula One since January when U.S.-based Liberty Media completed its takeover and replaced previous supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The sport's new owners have made improving the fan experience a priority and have also spoken of their desire to avoid major calendar clashes where possible.
Last year's Le Mans 24 Hours coincided with the European Grand Prix in Baku, now renamed the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and scheduled for June 25.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Mark Heinrich