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Jani: Non-Hybrids Faced With “Difficult” Fuel Saving Tactics

Neel Jani admits manual fuel-saving comes at a “big-time loss” for LMP1 privateers…

Photo: MPS Agency

Neel Jani says LMP1 privateers are now faced with the “difficult” task of manually saving fuel per lap in order to not exceed the FIA’s energy limits for non-hybrid competitors.

The 2016 FIA World Endurance Champion crossed the line in third in last weekend’s season-opening Total Six Hours of Spa in the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson, although was excluded post-race for excessive skid block wear.

While being one the quickest of the LMP1 non-hybrids, Jani and co-drivers Andre Lotterer and Bruno Senna were forced to be in fuel conservation mode all race long, oftentimes estimating the fuel numbers per lap.

It came as an eye-opening experience for the ex-Porsche LMP1 factory driver.

“Each pit stop we lose 10 or 15 seconds to the Toyota on the refuel,” Jani told Sportscar365. “Then we have less laps [stints], and we have to do a lot of fuel saving.

“It’s difficult for a team like us because we are under using fuel now, because we cannot over-use unless we get a penalty.

“There’s no software like we had at Porsche so we’re just guessing [by] ourselves, plus/minus. And that is a lot of time lost.”

LMP1 non-hybrids were permitted to utilize 47.1 kg of fuel per 17-lap stint at Spa, but without the computers and software utilized largely by the LMP1 factory teams only, Jani feels it puts privateers such as Rebellion at another “big-time” disadvantage.

“We’re allowed to use 2.66 [kg of fuel per lap] but we were using mostly on average 2.60 just to be safe, because we lifted ourselves… we had to guess by ourselves,” he said.

“So already we lost a lot of time on each lap… and that was for sure a big-time loss for us.”

The No. 1 Rebellion finished two laps behind the race-winning Toyota TS050 Hybrid, although Jani admitted that nearly 90 seconds of the deficit was lost for penalties and other gremlins.

It included a five-second stop-and-hold penalty in the second hour for exceeding the maximum amount of fuel per stint by 2.74 kg, as well as a stop with 1 hour and 50 minutes to go to replace the FIA’s mandatory data transmission antenna, which had stopped working.

While disappointed with the gap to the hybrids, Jani hasn’t laid the blame entirely on the EoT, admitting there are still “a lot of things” that have to be improved from the team’s side as well in its debut race with the ORECA-built prototype.

“We had to do quite a lot of fuel saving per lap but also we had quite a lot of issues,” he said.

“We were hoping to be only one lap down, to be honest. But on the other hand, we lost 1 minute 30 [seconds] with this other thing in the pits and we lost another 30 seconds in the first [safety car]. So that’s a lap.

“I don’t think it’s completely two laps, but clearly, the most difficult part for us is when we have to refuel because, for us, we don’t know where we are.

“We don’t have the software. We are always not going to be efficient with that.”

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

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Haskellb

    May 7, 2018 at 9:50 am

    And IMSA wants to get in bed with these fools. Both the 24hrs of Le Mans and a universal set of rules are important, but not at the cost of torpedoing the prototype class the way the WEC is going.

    • Jenner

      May 7, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      I agree, why is IMSA trying so hard to change WEC/ACO rules, regulations, and tradition. IMSA’s got Daytona, Long Beach, and the exotic, romantic local of the Detroit Gran Prix, where they’re the warm up act to Crapwagons.

      Just keep IMSA a US based series and quit wasting time, effort, and money trying to get IMSA cars into LeMans. Many IMSA teams are struggling to stay afloat in IMSA, let alone have the $$$ to race in France.

      How many IMSA teams have gotten auto-invites to Lemans but couldn’t come up with the funding to go to France.

      • Andy Flinn

        May 8, 2018 at 4:19 pm

        Jenner, you are aware that the WEC is the “warm up act” for IMSA and the DPis at Sebring next year, right?

        That’s because the WEC’s Texas alternative panned out so beautifully.

    • TF110

      May 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Yeah let’s blame the aco for the teams not having software developed to tell them how much fuel they are using per lap. That’s totally the rules fault isn’t it? Some of you guys crack me up! They’re guessing how much they are refueling too? Come on now, what else can you do to blame the rule makers for things like this that seem like common sense to keep track of?

  2. CMD

    May 7, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Now did the LMP1 non-hybrids actually think they had a chance against the factory efforts of Toyota? They got played and were sold a bad deal by WEC. Some fools never learn. WEC must attract more factory based teams for LMP1 to be successful in their eyes. The only way to accomplish this is if Toyota is clearly favored.

    Any LMP1 non-hybrid victories will come by way of Toyota attrition.

    • AudiTT

      May 7, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      Without drive through’s and penalties Rebellion would have been one lap behind a reliable Toyota after 6hrs. It only takes a slight tweak of the EoT regulation to ensure they are on the pace of the hybrids.

  3. Dave

    May 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    This seems counterintuitive. Let’s make sure I have it straight – The Rebellion has an intake limiter, a fuel fill limiter, a maximum size fuel tank, limited number of tires, a maximum stint time, and I am sure many other restrictions I’m not listing. Oh, and let’s not forget a skid plate. Yet on top of that, the drivers need to lift off of the accelerator to make sure they are not using too much gas? Not to conserve it to extend the stint, but to make sure the already regulated supply is not consumed at too great of a rate? The penalty would seem to be additional stops, but I guess they figure that would not give a large enough advantage to Toyota(?) Did the P1 teams know about this ahead of time? I can’t think that they did otherwise they would have built in the tech to monitor this. Let’s save a lot of time and money, give Toyota the top spot on the podium and then draw names for 2nd and 3rd.

  4. Degner

    May 7, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    The ACO and FIA are what they have always been – greedy and self-centered. They will ONLY do what suits them best and lines their pockets most liberally.

    To that end, they will tip the balance in whichever direction they find most profitable.

    The WEC is NOT racing. It’s a political venue for moneymaking and a bit of image-making. And the image-making can be set aside if profit dictates. Appearances matter only as long as the chosen outcome is achieved.

    “Toyota” is the answer to the question, what is the ACO/FIA’s chosen outcome for LMP1?

    I fail to understand why any privateers lined up to spend exorbitant sums of cash to add field-filler to the WEC’s 2018/19 P1 grid and trundle around in the wake of Toyota.

    The WEC is happy to have the P1 privateers onboard – as long as their hefty checks clear and they understand that winning is not acceptable.

    • paul

      May 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      Because of talk last year of giving them a real chance to win, that’s why. They got screwed. I´ll watch Le Mans to see if nerfing the privateers can challenge to the customary Toyota-can’t-win-for-lack-of-luck outcome 😉

    • Andy Flinn

      May 8, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Degner, the LMP1 privateers are fighting for the last spot on the podium and the opportunity to eventually be top dog when marketing data determines that Toyota is done racing privateers.

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