Friday 13 October 2017

FIA WEC - AIM/JUDD offer LMP1 engine for privateer teams in LMP1 as from 2018

British race engine manufacturer Engine Developments Ltd and AIM Co Ltd of Japan today announced a program to offer a new LMP1 engine for privateer teams. The engine will be available to private teams on a lease-only basis for the start of the 2018/2019 Super season. 

Since the introduction of fuel flow limiting regulations in the FIA WEC LMP1 class in 2013 AIM/Judd has tested and developed a number of different engine configurations including naturally aspirated and turbocharged platforms. Performance levels have increased significantly as the regulations have evolved, the result being that what may have been the optimum engine configuration in 2013 is no longer the best package to deliver the performance and reliability required.

At the current performance level of over 700PS and with a minimum car weight of less than 850kg, the new normally aspirated 5.5 litre V10 is designed to deliver extremely competitive lap times. The new V10 engine does not have the problems of throttle response, complexity and reliability associated with turbocharged engines or the weight and size issues associated with similar capacity normally aspirated V8 and V12 engines.

The AIM-JUDD V10 engine will incorporate a number of new developments aimed at maximising performance potential under the fuel flow limiting regulations whilst retaining the excellent reliability record that the previous JUDD and AIM V10 engines achieved in endurance racing. These include a new 72 degree cylinder block which is significantly lighter than any of our previous designs, a new combustion chamber, cooling system and piston design as well as an updated engine management system with electronic throttle and fuel flow management software. The expected technical regulations in LMP1 will guarantee parity of performance between the various engine types being used through a rigorous FIA homologation procedure. We therefore believe the V10 platform should be the natural choice for any LMP1 team that is serious about having a trouble-free run in the 2018 Le Mans 24hrs race. JUDD is delighted to again take on the Le Mans challenge with long-standing partners AIM in this new and exciting program. The new engine will be available to private teams on a lease-only basis for the beginning of the 2018/19 Super Season.

AIM-JUDD is the fourth engine manufacturer who has an engine available for the LMP1 privateer class in the FIA World Endurance Championship next season. They have been active in LMP2 until 2016 after which Gibson was selected as the sole engine supplier for the new LMP2 cars. The 2016 Asian Le Mans Series champions Race Performance raced with a Judd engine in the Oreca 03.  In the privateer LMP1 class, Ginetta is working together with Mechachrome for its LMP1 customer car, but is offering the option to team up with a different manufacturer. BR Engineering/Dallara is believed to have a deal with AER for its engine, and ByKolles will keep on racing with Nismo engines next season. 

Whether we'll see a Judd/AIM engine on the grid in the 2018/2019 season, and if a V10 naturally aspirated engine will be the best available option is unclear. An earlier attempt in 2016 to commercialise a similar engine didn't get them any customers, as privateer teams Rebellion and ByKolles held on to their AER engines. The addition of an extra engine manufacturer might open up the privateer market though, and who doesn't want to hear a screaming V10 going round at Le Mans ? 

Kristof Vermeulen.