ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil is optimistic of seeing additional teams join the LMP1 Privateer ranks by as early as 2018, in the wake of SMP Racing’s commitment to the non-hybrid subclass.
The Russian squad announced last week that it will run an all-new LMP1 car jointly built by Dallara and BR Engineering, marking the first new commitment in the class since Lotus/ByKolles in 2014.
Beaumesnil said there are multiple other teams and constructors currently in discussions.
“[Whether it’s] for 2018 or 2019 we will see because sometimes people are optimistic in their schedules,” he told Sportscar365. “But the [arrival] of Dallara is very good.
“I think people now understand where we’re going and the opportunity we give for them to be very close with the [factory] cars.
“Considering the potential budget is not ten times bigger than LMP2… the target is to be less than twice the price of LMP2. For that, you can be in the fight for the podium with the big stars. So I think there’s a real incentive for that.”
Beaumesnil said that while the SMP Racing project was in the pipeline before Audi’s withdrawal, he sees the current reduced LMP1 Hybrid grid as an opportunity for additional privateers to join the top ranks.
The class, however, will see a depleted hybrid and non-hybrid grid next year, with Rebellion Racing parking its AER-powered R-Ones in favor of its new LMP2 program with Oreca 07s.
It will leave ByKolles Racing as the only expected entrant in LMP1 Privateer entrant in 2017.
“We want these cars back for sure. It’s important for us,” Beaumesnil said. “We met some people who are really committed to starting the project. But all these people are keeping confidential.”
The FIA and ACO, meanwhile, continue to work to finalize the category’s future regulations, including the potential introduction of DRS for 2018.
What is expected to change from the original proposal, however, is the introduction of new monocoque rules, which will likely get pushed back to 2021 or 2022 due to the freezing of the LMP1 hybrid regulations.
“We will not introduce a new monocoque for Privateer before the factories,” Beaumesnil said. “It makes sense but this has not yet been officially decided so we have to work it out.
“But it would make sense to postpone using the new monocoque two more years as well.”
In terms of performance, Beaumesnil still feels future LMP1 non-hybrids will be able to outperform new LMP2 machinery, which receives a significant power boost for next year.
“We are now defining the performance window we want to have the LMP1 Privateers,” he said. “Then it’s up to them to work to maybe be better. But we have to define a window.
“The car is much more competitive than LMP2 for sure.”