Stan­dard hy­brids on sportscar hori­zon

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

The top tier of Le Mans Pro­to­types might run to a sin­gle hy­brid de­sign in the future as part of cost-cut­ting mea­sures aimed at at­tract­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers back into the for­mula.

Le Mans or­gan­iser the ACO and the FIA have been work­ing to bring in new reg­u­la­tions aimed at re­duc­ing the nine­fig­ure bud­gets cur­rently re­quired for a top-flight man­u­fac­turer P1 pro­gramme. But have also brought in rule breaks to en­tice new teams in the near future.

Prior to Christ­mas, the ACO re­leased a series of short-term tweaks to the LMP1 rule­book aimed at en­cour­ag­ing new man­u­fac­turer pro­grammes for the top LMP1-H cat­e­gory, which is down to just Toyota and Porsche fol­low­ing Audi Sport’s with­drawal.

The changes in­clude un­lim­ited body­work de­signs – whereas ex­ist­ing teams are lim­ited to three kits – ad­di­tional wind tun­nel hours, ex­tra tyres dur­ing six-hour races and un­lim­ited pri­vate test­ing as well as the chance to change hy­brid class dur­ing the season.

The changes are de­signed to give prospec­tive new en­trants a first or sec­ond season de­vel­op­ment leg-up to be able to com­pete with ex­ist­ing crews. New teams will have to com­pile a dossier prov­ing they have not ben­e­fited from any data sur­round­ing the ex­ist­ing LMP1 en­tries be­fore they will be granted the waivers.

Also on the hori­zon is a raft of cost-cut­ting mea­sures, which might in­clude all teams mov­ing to a spec hy­brid pow­er­train when the next tech­ni­cal rules cy­cle be­gins in 2020. In re­cent sea­sons all teams have adopted the bat­tery en­ergy stor­age sys­tem pi­o­neered by Porsche.

ACO pres­i­dent Pierre Fil­lon told news­pa­per France Bleu Maine that cost re­duc­tion was a top pri­or­ity, and that a spec hy­brid was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

He said: “We have had very in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies with hy­brid sys­tems but com­pe­ti­tion was so strong be­tween Porsche, Audi and Toyota. They de­vel­oped more so­phis­ti­cated sys­tems and that’s how costs go up.

“We have been work­ing for two years to re­duce costs, lim­it­ing test­ing, lim­it­ing the num­ber of peo­ple al­lowed to work in teams, lim­it­ing the aero­dy­namic de­vel­op­ments and we will go fur­ther. We will re­main in in­no­va­tion, but with­out go­ing into mul­ti­ple hy­brid sys­tems. There will be one sys­tem for the car of to­mor­row.”

Tweaks will be made to LMP rules to cut down the bud­gets

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