The 24 Hours of Le Mans could still feature an event-specific Balance of Performance despite the rollout of the ACO and FIA’s new automated BoP for the majority of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Multiple GTE manufacturers have indicted to Sportscar365 that plans have not been shelved for the concept, which would lock in the BoP for the French endurance classic independent of the first two rounds of the championship.
“Le Mans is always a special event. Everybody’s allowed a special aero kit so that has to be considered for the BoP of Le Mans,” Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser told Sportscar365.
Walliser said the initiative for the BoP system overhaul was made following last year’s race, which was ridden in controversy and included an unprecedented post-qualifying change.
The yet-to-be-detailed auto-BoP is understood to be the result of those talks, and will be in place for all six-hour races, beginning with the season-opener at Silverstone later this month.
It’s understood the Le Mans-specific BoP would take into account data from last year’s race, the FIA’s BoP testing in Ladoux as well as data shared by IMSA from the opening two rounds of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“We’re a year on and Porsche is here with a new car,” Aston Martin Racing team principal Paul Howarth told Sportscar365. “I’m trustful whichever systems we apply that we can go to Le Mans and be competitive for the 24 hours. We all want a fair playing field.”
The FIA, meanwhile, has confirmed the initial BoP, understood to be for the first two races of the season, which will serve as the baseline for the automated system when it fully kicks in beginning with the fourth round at the Nürburgring in July.
It’s understood the auto-BoP system only works when calculating data from the previous two races, which prevents any changes being made between Silverstone and Spa.
Cars taking part in this weekend’s Prologue pre-season test at Monza are running to the initial configuration.
While representatives from Porsche, Aston Martin and Ford have all voiced support in the new system, Antonello Coletta, Head of Ferrari’s GT racing activities, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We’re analyzing the new idea but I’m not sure it will be the best solution,” Coletta told Sportscar365. “We are free for the first two races because after the first race, we don’t change the BoP.
“The second race is the same of the first. Le Mans is another BoP. Then we would have the first chance to change the BoP with the new setup at half season.”
Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell, meanwhile, is wholly supportive of auto-BoP.
“All the manufacturers had the chance to be involved in creating this thing,” he told Sportscar365. “We’re supportive and there’s a good chance it could be better than something that is as subjective-human viewpoints.
“Everyone know’s what’s coming based on the race results, so you can’t argue about it.”
Howard-Chappell, who’s led three different GT manufacturers to class victories at Le Mans, admitted BoP, no matter the system, will never be perfect.
“It still can only deal with the performance that is shown,” he said.
“Peter Wright was the originator of the BoP back in 2005, and he always, always quoted, ‘I can only balance the performance I’m shown.’ That’s the key to it.
“It has the potential to be very good.”
Full details on the auto-BoP system are expected to be released by the ACO next week.