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Driver Rating Lineup Exceptions on a “Case by Case” Basis

ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil reveals exceptions can be made to driver lineups…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil has revealed its newly permitted adjustments to driver rating requirements in certain lineups will only be on a “case by case” basis.

The development comes in the wake of Henrik Hedman, a Bronze-rated driver by the FIA, set to be allowed to compete in LMP1 this season despite the World Endurance Championship sporting regulations prohibiting Bronze drivers in the class. 

At least one other exception is expected to also be made this year, for the European Le Mans Series LMP2 class, which mandates at least one Bronze or Silver-rated driver per lineup.

The permitted exceptions come in wake of a modification to the WEC sporting regulations for 2018, which states that a committee made up of representatives from the FIA, ACO and LMEM may grant “temporary dispensation” from the rule on the driver lineup compositions at the request of the competitor, granted it doesn’t compromise track safety or give the team a sporting advantage. 

Beaumesnil has stressed that the rule does not re-classify the driver, but rather allows the possibility of an adjusted lineup under specified conditions in order to “protect” gentlemen drivers.

“We’re just giving ourselves the opportunity to do it on a case by case [basis], all in the strict respect of sporting equity,” he told Endurance-Info.

“We intervene on the lineup, not on the [driver] categorization. 

“The performances of the drivers will be followed throughout the season. If we notice a bad surprise, then we can change this layout. 

“This rule applies to both the WEC and ELMS. I repeat, there is no question of intervening on the categorization.”

When asked specifically about the situation in LMP1, Beaumesnil said it’s not possible for all Bronze-rated drivers to compete in the top class.

“Driving in LMP1 is not allowed for everyone,” he said. “However, it’s possible to accept, on a case-by-case basis, a driver who has sufficient experience, in particular in LMP2.”

Hedman, an overall race-winner in ELMS LMP2 competition, was the first confirmed driver in DragonSpeed’s lineup in its new BR Engineering BR1 Gibson, alongside Ben Hanley and Renger van der Zande.

The U.S.-based Swede will also take part in his third consecutive season in ELMS this year, again at the wheel of an Oreca 07 Gibson.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. daedalus

    February 6, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I know Hedman brings money to the team but they have almost zero chance of winning with him in the car for more than an hour or two. When ever he gets in a LMP2 in ELMS it sinks like a stone (sometimes with a spin) till nick or ben gets in and it climbs back up again. That might be fine (and fun to watch) in LMP2 where every team has a gentleman driver but not in LMP1 going up against all pro lineups when even the pro drivers in the lineup will struggle to claw back the lost time.

  2. Mike S

    February 6, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Yeah where there is one exception precedence is set. Plus being slow is one thing but safety should be the main thing.

    • Peter Tabmow

      February 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      I bet we see more than one Bronze driver in LMP1 this season. Hedman is far from the slowest Bronze in the ELMS LMP2 field, and not even remotely reckless on track. In fact, with substantially more grip and barely another 100 bhp on tap in P1, his lot may be somewhat easier than in P2. Winning? Maybe not, but podiums are possible. Reliability will be king in the Super Season, and we shall see which team has assembled the most robust package. The DragonSpeed engineering team will ensure Ben and Renger have all the speed they can use when they get in the car.

  3. peter p

    February 7, 2018 at 3:24 am

    can we cut the bulls..t out!!!!
    WEC is struggeling for LMP1 cars and the series as such so they will do things to allow heavy budget loaded drivers that fund a team to compete
    full stop!!
    it is when you are on the life support machine you will be happy to try all possible means of keep on going

    simple solution would be to use DPI rules and cars (will never happen as the french/Le Mans people dit not invent it) shame

    • Peter Tabmow

      February 7, 2018 at 9:35 am

      Obviously… I’m just saying I don’t find this particular exception at all irresponsible or dangerous. And as travis McBee pointed out in commenting on another story on this site, Hedman did stay on the lead lap at Monza last season.

      In the big picture, we have the battle between IMSA’s DPi vision and the ACO/FIA philosophy. I think the latter came perilously close to having to accept DPi at Le Mans sooner rather than later, and responded to this threat with the Super Season. They are taking a big risk, though – the LMP1 entry could easily collapse again after 2019 unless the 2020 LMP rules are even more attractive and cost-controlled than DPi, or simply allow DPi to compete for outright victory at Le Mans. The most likely scenario could be 2020 FIA regulations that mimic DPi but carry a face-saving ‘Fabriqué en France’ label while allowing a limited number (e.g. no more than a third of the top class) of IMSA DPi entries at Le Mans.

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