Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser believes the GTE-Pro Balance of Performance for next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans should be “tremendously better” than the controversial BoP that impacted the production-based class last year.
Porsche was one of the most-affected manufacturers in 2016, with the Manthey-run Porsche 911 RSRs, along with other normally aspirated-engined cars, unable to match the pace of the turbocharged Ferrari 488 GTEs and Ford GTs, which claimed a commanding class victory.
While the Le Mans-specific BoP for this year’s race has yet to be released or distributed to manufacturers, Walliser is confident that it will be a significant improvement, with additional measures, and a more scientific approach, put into place.
“I’m confident there is a lot of effort from the FIA and ACO to tremendously improve the process,” he told Sportscar365. “With the exchanging of data, we have a clear schedule of how to make the BoP.
“A lot of things changed in views and analysis of everything. This is tremendously better than last year.”
An unprecedented post-qualifying change, aimed to close the gap between the turbocharged and normally aspirated cars, led to the BoP taking center stage last year, and yet yielding no significant effect in the race.
Ford and Ferrari locked out the top four positions in French endurance classic, with the best-placed non-turbo finishing more than two laps behind.
“Last year was just a decision; it was the wrong one. I think I’m not alone with that one,” Walliser said.
“There [was] no discussion, just a decision and a big fight. Friday afternoon meetings and all the things that happened…
“I’m much more confident that the outcome will be better. But I’ll tell you after the race if everything is right.”
Walliser said the change in procedure and philosophy from the FIA and ACO, with additional data-based analysis, and better an improved working relationship, has made the biggest difference.
Work on the BoP began after last year’s race, through multiple meetings with all involved parties.
“If you feel like you’re treated well and feel like there was a big effort, then I’m sure you will not fail so much, and it’s much more acceptable,” Walliser said.
While the Le Mans-specific BoP is set to be released this month, Walliser said he’s been pleased with the initial results of the new automatic BoP system, which is utilized for all regular-season WEC races.
The first two races at Silverstone and Spa saw a freeze in the baseline BoP, with the first change through the new automated system set to be made prior to the fourth round of the season at the Nürburgring in July.
“If I look at Silverstone, it was a tough race,” Walliser said. “But I did not really have the impression that one or the other car was hiding something. Maybe a car did have a problem on its tires but it was very close and hard-fought. It was good.
“At the moment when you saw the checkered flag, it was clear what would happen to the BoP: nothing. That was good.”