Saturday 11 April 2015

LM P2 Infinity and beyond !

The ACO can't be criticised for ever letting the grass grow under their feet.  They love their prototypes and LM P2 has been tweaked and improved over the last eleven years with the last major tweak being in 2009 when the regulations called for 'production based engines'. These engines were sourced mainly by Nissan and Honda (under the banner of HPD High Performance Development).

The ACO, looking towards 2017, wanted to produce a set of regulations that would give teams a better car for a lower budget.. that produces fair and close competition .. working with a proper business model to build and run cars .. and offering protection from unfair competition or expensive technology. All very praiseworthy but maybe the most important aspect of these planned changes is that cars should, broadly  speaking, be eligible for The Asian Le Mans Series, The European Le Mans Series, The Tudor United Sports Car Championship ( with a few  specific exceptions that are required by IMSA) and of course on the world stage with The World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 hours.

At the moment there are several chassis manufacturers, some only supplying a couple of units a year, and as a result the unit costs are high. The ACO solution is to move towards one manufacturer producing all the chassis. This will substantially reduce costs. There will also be savings in maintenance and operational costs. The only bad news might be that by 2017 any existing chassis will probably be rendered obsolete.

So we are heading towards a 'one make championship'?... no.. we are heading towards a 'one chassis championship' because the choice of engines, aero etc will remain free within the regulations.

No decision has been made yet on the chosen manufacturer but some suggest it might be Oreca ( French) , engines might still come from Nissan ( who are now closely related to Renault.. French) and maybe tyres from Michelin ( French). Maybe there is a theme here !

LM P2 always tends to get overshadowed by the manufacturer supported LM P1 cars when they appear on the same bill but while the spotlight shines on the P1 cars almost invariably there is some close and highly competitive racing in P2.  So the future now looks rosy for these prototypes all over the world. The ACO should be congratulated.