Neveu Targeting “Good Quality” LMP1 Grid for 2018-19

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu believes the LMP1 class will have a “good number of cars” next year in its restructured format, despite questions still looming over Toyota’s future beyond this season.

Wholesale changes have been announced to the globe-trotting championship, in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 exit, including a consolidated LMP1 class that will see hybrid and non-hybrid prototypes balanced via an Equivalence of Technology.

While not being drawn on a car count target, Neveu believes the revised format will attract new privateer teams, and potentially manufacturer-supported efforts to LMP1 as well.

“My idea is to have a good quality grid with a good number of cars,” Neveu told Sportscar365.

“We have made the platform what we proposed. We’re discussing of the backstage with a number of privateer teams and manufacturers. Let’s see who will be ready to finalize and be there.

“I will say the idea is to build something sustainable.

“I prefer to have seven very competitive cars with a long-term view of making a great show on the track than have 12 cars and have four or five of them in the back.”

While SMP Racing is set to enter with at least one new Dallara-built BR1 prototype and ByKolles likely to return with an updated version of its CLM P1/01, no other firm commitments have been made for the class.

Plans for a two-car effort utilizing Perrinn chassis have fallen through, while Ginetta has yet to confirm sales of its LMP1 car and rumors of potential ORECA and Onroak Automotive-built cars haven’t materialized. 

The big question, however, is whether Toyota will return, with a decision from the Japanese manufacturer set to be made by next month.

With no direct manufacturer competition, and a potential limited grid of non-hybrid entries, Toyota Gazoo Racing team director Rob Leupen said the category’s future outlook, with new regulations on the horizon, will be among the items that will play a factor on its decision.

Should Toyota continue, it would have to commit to the entire 2018-19 season, according to Neveu. 

“Everything can have an influence on our decision,” Leupen told Sportscar365. “If we’re going to change major parts on our car, we need to invest in this. It would mean where is the cost-savings aspect?

“If you have a transition season, there’s no other manufacturers, are we creating more costs or not?

“We need to see what they are going to do and whether it’s becoming more attractive for us or not. If not, then you might make a very crude decision.

“It’s difficult to say. We can hope of a positive outcome.”

Under the current plan, hybrid performance levels will remain unchanged, with non-hybrids getting power and fuel increases to put them closer in performance.

According to ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil, the allowances provide an attractive opportunity for privateers to potentially fight for overall wins.

“It will never be such a great opportunity for [privateer teams] to come as now,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.

“We give [privateers] the same potential of performance, then people will have to work and make a good car and achieve it.

“Based on that, I think it provides quite a lot of opportunities to the private teams. You can join a ‘Super Season’, something that’s never happened, with two Le Mans, and you can win.”

With the revised LMP1 regulations locked in for the next two seasons, and an all-new set of rules expected for 2020, Beaumesnil indicated he’s unsure if any new full-fatory efforts would enter in the short-term.

However, the interim ruleset now permits manufacturer efforts with non-hybrid prototypes, which could include works-supported engine programs.

44 Comments

  1. pdxracefan

    September 11, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Neveu sounds more and more like Atherton every time he speaks.

    • jason

      September 11, 2017 at 11:39 am

      At least on the MWM interviews last week I could understand Scott. I had to skip the Neveu segment completely. Frenchman who speak English are so hard to understand.

    • Max

      September 11, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      With the great distinction that Atherton has cars to compete in his top class. I can see the importance of the most visible figure in a sporting body to show confidence in his or her league. This guy is delusional.

      If they want to save this sinking ship they should waive the entry fees or give a rebate on them once you finish the whole super season. Chipping in to get Rebellion’s former LMP1 hardware off the ground might net them a 4-7 car field when this all shakes out.

      Or they can just continue their slow motion implosion of LMP1.

      • Osake

        September 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        The LMP1 field in 2018/19 will be double the size it is today. They will also have a stronger P2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am entry.

        Why are American fans so dismisive of other cultures and so quick to throw the towel in?

        • rissas dad

          September 11, 2017 at 1:58 pm

          Culture? This has to do with the ACO’s continuous actions of keeping all other series as second string support events. They’ve got the big event, and they use it as leverage. They know that they have the jewel that the manufacturers want and make no bones about making rules to fit the European dynamic and the 24. To hell with America. Their decisions make this stance crystal clear. They forced IMSA(and ELMS/AsianLMS) to adopt P2s as the top class to keep them as second string. IMSA was wise and bold enough to try something different.
          Right now, the ACO are having to deal with the situation they have made, and its come back on them and its not good for them.

          However, its cyclical. No reason to feel too bad or too good.

        • Mike

          September 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

          You seriously think there will be 8-10 cars in P1 next year?

          Not a chance. It has nothing to do with other cultures or throwing in the towel. It’s just realistic. Ginetta still has 0 confirmed customers and no build. ByKolles could drop back off the map again. Rebellion isn’t moving up. Toyota might “get the boot” (pure posturing by the WEC but still). The SMP Dallara is really the only semi-sure thing.

        • Chad

          September 11, 2017 at 3:24 pm

          FACT: IMSA is growing and growing fast with their DPi formula. FACT: WEC has lost 2 big players in the past 2 years (Audi & Porsche). The IMSA model is thriving while the WEC struggles. There is absolutely no debating this. It has absolutely nothing to do with cultures or “Americans” being dismissive. This is purely stating the facts, LMP1 is in serious trouble.

          • GR88

            September 11, 2017 at 4:41 pm

            IMSA’s entry looks extremely familiar to the last few years, GM, Mazda, HPD and ESM in the top class. If there is growth it’s teams populating LMP2 who used to be in LMPC. Again that’s no surprise as that was the ACO’s intention for privateers.

            I don’t see a great deal of difference to how the WEC grid will pan out in the coming years. A number of the major LMP2 teams will step upto LMP1 and LMP2 will attract teams stepping up from LMP3.

        • Max

          September 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm

          I want the WEC to succeed. I am deriding their constant attempts to snatch defeat from the jaws of success. Let’s see how things currently stack up:

          1. They’ve lost two manufacturers in two years.
          2. The other, Toyota, canceled their plans to announce what they’re doing next year when they got the super season ultimatum. Why not encourage them to run the whole season instead of intimidating them away?
          3. They require a half million dollar fee to have Ginetta, Perrinn, or SMP compete for the manufacturer title. The former two don’t even have confirmed programs yet they throw a roadblock at them.
          4. Their most successful and reliable LMP1 Privateer, Rebellion, openly doesn’t believe in what the heads of the WEC are saying.

          None of that is in agreement with what Neveu is saying.

          Atherton has had to swallow some tough pills to save face in the early Tudor Championship days after MMPR, Rebellion, GAINSCO, and others either left the sport or didn’t show up in the first place. He didn’t go out and say “Hey, everything is super awesome! Look how great we are! We have everything under control! Everything about next season will be better than this season!” He simply reassured folks that the racing formula was good, that they were working on getting more competitors, and promoted his series. They took care of the Privateers from day one and the factories and held them on the same footing. They kept working to get P2s and DPs on the same footing and were successful in their last season together.

          Those are words and actions that were well aligned. Not the current nonsense we’re hearing from the WEC.

          As another counterpoint, look as the AsLMS before and after the ACO takeover. The same blowhard Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah nonsense almost killed that series. After the ACO took control they made an actual plan and stuck to it and the championship isn’t doing too bad.

          • GR88

            September 11, 2017 at 5:58 pm

            It looks like the ACO have made a plan for the WEC and will stick with that.

            Starting with a rules realignment that will ensure privateers are competitive. It’s for this very reason Rebellion are encouraged and see opportunities for their early return to LMP1. I don’t think they’ll be alone, there’s never been a better time for privateers to step upto the premier class.

            I don’t see anyone saying all is fine. Quite the contrary, hence the major structural and regulation changes. The increased privateer interest was already underway before Porsche’s withdrawal. Now it’s kicked into top gear, so it’s a case of sitting back and seeing what programs emerge for next year. We have at least 6 months to finalise 2018/19 efforts.

  2. tobinsmith

    September 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

    why can’t Porsche or Audi come back now with a petrol version, asking for a friend

    • Andy

      September 11, 2017 at 11:18 am

      I don’t think by rules they can run a regular type car. As a manufacturer they must run a hybrid

      • Axl Rose ate my Buick

        September 11, 2017 at 12:15 pm

        ACO said in Mexico that there is a manufacturer interested in a non-hybrid entry and that’s ok.

        • Rob

          September 11, 2017 at 12:53 pm

          any chance that’s the NISSAN squad? since they couldn’t figure out how to get the hybrid system to work.

          • jareth Belanger

            September 12, 2017 at 8:02 am

            Nissan is out of LMP1. They were only interested in a hopeful loophole abuse for a quick win, which Bowlby promised them

            Their focus is going to stay with GT3 series and maybe, just maybe financial support for ESM in the future (we will see if they go that route)

        • Helmut

          September 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

          Probably Renault / Alpine.

      • Matt

        September 11, 2017 at 6:19 pm

        No hybrid requirement as of next year, likely a move to appease Peugeot as they’re the only OEM who’ve expressed any interest publicly.

        • Helmut

          September 13, 2017 at 8:37 am

          There have been rumours in France a few weeks ago that Alpine wants to step up somehow, in any case compete for overall wins. It was unclear whether they were of entering a somehow improved version of their current spec Oreca in LMP1 or whether they consider to buy / build a new car (it should be possible to turn the current LMP2 into LMP1 without too many changes).

  3. jason

    September 11, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I hope Toyota does not come back. We could use a real shakeup. WEC with their “super season” pretty much challenged Toyota to commit to the whole thing or go.

    Toyota I guess could lie and say they will commit but then leave after the 2018 races.

    • TF110

      September 11, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      I feel the opposite. The opened up rules will attract new blood regardless. Why should they leave when they have supported the wec previously? Comments like this make no sense to me. No one knows they only want to run 3 races. They haven’t announced anything. All the talk about leaving is premature.

      • jareth Belanger

        September 12, 2017 at 8:03 am

        Because Toyota is on a strict budget and more races requires more money. These decisions are not made based on emotion or “love of the sport” but money.

        • Helmut

          September 13, 2017 at 8:38 am

          The WEC will have less races per year than the current season. This should be an argument for staying.

  4. Johannes275

    September 11, 2017 at 11:40 am

    You’re not going to get it, Gerard. Simple as that.

    • Osake

      September 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Except its not that simple.

      At this very moment there are constructors investing millions of Euro’s into new LMP1 programs and a host of teams looking to step up to LMP1.

      • pdxracefan

        September 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm

        Source(s) please?

        • TF110

          September 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm

          Sources for what? Google is your friend. Dallara SMP, Ginetta and Kolles have all stated their intentions before. Plus more in the shadows we don’t hear about. Like Joest Mazda

          • Mike

            September 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm

            Kolles, SMP and a Ginetta demonstration team (likely all they’ll get for 2018) is 3-5 cars.

          • Andrew

            September 11, 2017 at 4:01 pm

            Ginetta has a wind tunnel scale model, and no customers. Kolles haven’t built the most reliable chassis and I’d count on one at most for full season. Dallas has SUP money so I’d say 2 is probably safe bet.

            Joest Mazda isn’t and won’t be LMP1 or WEC. It’s funded by Mazda USA so it’s an IMSA project.

            So 3 is safe, 4 maybe. Not exactly a hearty LMP1 field. And Toyota had hinted at 3 races in 2018 multiple times, yes no press release but most reporters have referred to it.

          • AudiTT

            September 11, 2017 at 5:11 pm

            The Ginetta LMP1 is under construction at their base. It will start testing in October. The SMP Dallara is also close to final build, they’re using AER engines, Ginetta chose Mechachrome.

            Potential customers now have another 6-8 weeks to prepare programs thanks to the season starting in May at Spa.That will help Manor, Rebellion, KCMG, JOTA, Signatech, ART and the other parties dying up LMP1.

      • Bakkster

        September 11, 2017 at 3:11 pm

        To be fair, constructors are worthless without customers running the cars. That’s the problem with Ginetta, they could either sell all their chassis and have 6 on the WEC grid, or they might not sell any of them and sink the company.

        • TT

          September 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm

          Ginetta’s owner is worth over half a billion dollars and they produce over 150 race cars per year.

          Being extremely conservative 6 privateer LMP1’s seems a given, more likely 8. The interest is out there.

          This time last year only a few LMP2 programs where known. By the start of the 2017 season 30 chassis had been sold.

          • Helmut

            September 13, 2017 at 8:40 am

            LMP2 can compete in several series around the world, LMP1 is restricted to WEC, a series whose future is rather unclear.

          • Helmut

            September 13, 2017 at 8:41 am

            And the current plans are not necessarily promising, buy a new car, then move it in only four races? Teams have to fund their program somehow, but sponsors might pay less in case of only four races, and you can earn less with paydrivers as well.

      • Blue Oval fan

        September 11, 2017 at 4:42 pm

        And when you wake up out of that pipe dream you let us know how that turns out.

        Yes please give us some sources for your claims????? Cause your obviously more connected than anyone else. Only Works team to even remotely express interest is Peugeot, and you won’t see them till 2020 at the earliest.

  5. Mark - Toronto

    September 11, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I wonder what the penalty is for not honoring a commitment to 2018/19. If Toyota were to commit, win Le Mans in 2018 and then pack it in…would the win be taken away? I doubt it. Not if they’re still trying to attract manufacturers to a new formula (Toyota included).

    • Guest

      September 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      They’d just lose out on the full-season entrance fee. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t enter at all. Even though they claim pure R&D, it’s still lots of money to be restricted on what you can develop.

    • Slicks in the wet

      September 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      No fee..cause you see, we damaged our ribs in testing and just can’t get new ones built in time…Sorry ACO, we are simply gutted to not make the race weekends

      • Slicks in the wet

        September 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm

        *Boo…ribs=tubs

  6. Bakkster

    September 11, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Isn’t this what the ACO said about the 2014 regulations? They said back in 2013 that Privateers would be able to compete for overall wins thanks to the EOT, and that double-digit car counts were a reasonable expectation.

    That prediction didn’t age very well…

    • Slicks in the wet

      September 11, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      Big farce. This is just PR speak to keep series sponsors on board. They don’t wanna scare Total away….

      Everything’s fine here..gonna have huge fields..many eyes will surely stay tuned in to your logo going around track.

      Now please, sign on the dotted line kthnx

    • Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

      September 11, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Well Bakkster ya gotta understand that this time they really mean it…LOL

  7. rissas dad

    September 11, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    6-8 Ginettas, i really wish those who keep saying this could wager with me.

    • TT

      September 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      I don’t see anyone saying that.

      2x SMP, 2-3x Ginetta, 1x ByKolles,that looks a realistic expectation. I’d hope to see more than that by at least a couple given the interest shown.

  8. jaysfan

    September 12, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Let’s see, Porsche is gone at the end of the year, Toyota possibly will follow the suit, Audi long gone too, there are only 2 new manufacturers entering WEC next season, Dallara and Ginetta, what are they going to do, enter 6 cars each? Yep, the CEO is optimistic!

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