Friday 15 September 2017

FIA WEC: More details emerge about LMP1 regulations for 2018/2019

More news has emerged today about the new look FIA World Endurance Championship after the release of the 2018/2019 schedule
Following the departure of Porsche out of the LMP1 category by the end of this season, the ACO had to create a new context for the FIA World Endurance Championship.  The new course the ACO, FIA and WEC are going into is pointed towards offering motorsport enthousiasts and endurance fans in particular, as well as existing and new teams in the series a fresh challenge for the 2018/2019 super season.

On paper the 2018-2019 season is a historic one. With two Le Mans 24 Hour races, two races at Spa, a 12 Hour night race at Sebring as wel as Fuji, Shanghai and Silverstone, the 2018/2019 super season visits 6 iconic circuits. It’s an exciting road map that’s already an exceptional one in the history of the FIA World Endurance Championship. This transition year is in fact a fantastic opportunity for the entrants and the Le Mans 24 Hours and its public to shine in a different fashion. The ACO and the WEC are already preparing to make this double Le Mans a success for spectators, entrants, drivers, and private and works teams. 
While the LMGTE category is attracting a new manufacturer as BMW is joining Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Ford and Corvette, the ACO and the FIA are buckling down to the task of ensuring that the LMP1 category undergoes a revival in the coming years. Henceforth, both hybrid and non-hybrid prototypes will compete in a single championship. The organisers have taken a realistic, responsible approach in the current economic and environmental climate. As has been the case in previous years cost reduction is an absolute priority, but without sacrificing the competition and technological research aspects. Thus, some new regulations have been adopted so that manufacturers as well as the private teams can each deploy their solutions on the track. 

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, sums up: “In the light of the recent context we’ve given the regulations for the next two seasons an in-depth examination. We’re aware of the current realities and we’ve shouldered our responsibilities and made some technical modifications to ensure that for 2018-2019 we’ll have a decent LMP1 grid and not just cars to make up the numbers. Each entrant will have a level playing field out on the track.  We want to involve candidates who are already tempted to join LMP2, as well as attracting some LMP2 teams who are hesitating about taking the step up into LMP1 and make them realise that now is the right moment!” 
Thus, the non-hybrid chassis regulations will remain identical to those in 2017. They already offer a certain number of aerodynamic advantages compared to the hybrids. In addition, the adjustments to the rules aimed at including all the LMP1s in the same championship introduced by the ACO and the FIA by adjusting the fuel allocation for the non-hybrid LM P1 prototypes, will ensure that their performance is close to that of the hybrids. However, hybrid technology can demonstrate its properties and efficiency thanks to better autonomy in particular (+ 1 lap in the Le Mans 24 Hours).
On paper in these conditions the challenge in LMP1 for a private team can be justified like the wish of certain LMP2 teams to move up a category. Bearing this in mind and to anticipate the arrival of potential candidates, a technological equivalence between turbo and normally-aspirated engines will be brought in to enlarge the range of engines in LMP1. Thus, an LMP2 team thinking of converting its chassis to comply with the LMP1 regulations will be able to install a normally-aspirated engine closer to the motor already used in LM P2: it’s a very promising approach!
To see manufacturers and private teams doing battle out on the track has been the fundamental promise of the Le Mans 24 Hours since its creation. And that still holds true today!