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Further IMSA Outings Unlikely for Inter Europol Competition

WEC’s low-downforce aero rule contributes to Inter Europol forgoing more IMSA…

Photo: MPS Agency

Inter Europol Competition is unlikely to make further IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship appearances this year, according to team principal Sascha Fassbender.

The Polish-flagged FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 squad contested last year’s Motul Petit Le Mans and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring IMSA rounds with an Oreca 07 Gibson, in conjunction with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and Era Motorsport.

The team also looked at adding more IMSA races to its program for 2021 but no longer holds that as part of its plans for as long as the two series require their LMP2 classes to run with different aerodynamic configurations.

Fassbender explained that additional LMP2 performance restrictions in the WEC mean there is little value in the team joining IMSA races to boost the LMP2 experience of its Silver-rated driver Jakub Smiechowski, which was the main purpose of its 2020 entries.

Le Mans-style bodywork has been mandated by the WEC to ensure a sufficient pace gap between LMP2 and the new Hypercar class, which is slower than its LMP1 predecessor.

The aero adjustment forms part of a performance reduction package for LMP2 outside IMSA that also includes a weight increase to 950 kg and power reduction to 400 kW.

“Calendar-wise we can’t do it with our own car because the car gets sent after Monza, straight away to Fuji and then it goes to Bahrain. We have just one car,” said Fassbender.

“The other thing is we were driving in IMSA a completely different car from now: so what would be the learning of that?

“Maybe if we decide to go in IMSA next year instead of WEC or ELMS, it’s a different picture.

“But this is not in our thoughts at the moment. We are focusing on the WEC program. We want to continue in WEC, not moving in other series.

He continued: “When the cars were the same and we had the collaboration with PR1 and Era Motorsport, it was a little bit of a mix.

“For us, it was renting a car there and making up our own engineers and mechanics as we did for those two races.

“But now we will not improve our WEC program if we go in IMSA. There’s not much sense to do it anymore. We will go with LMP3 in ELMS and LMP2 in WEC. This is what we want to do.”

Fassbender explained that Petit Le Mans and Sebring were initially worthwhile exercises for Inter Europol, but the WEC’s move to make further changes to its second-tier prototype category last month removed many of the potential returns.

“At the beginning, it was very good and absolutely the right decision,” he said.

“We were collecting so much data that we could put into our simulation model and run simulations et cetera. But with the decision three weeks ago, we throw it in the bin.

“But nobody knew [that would happen] before. Now it’s a completely different car. You cannot compare anymore.

“I would say it could be good for Kuba: he raced the Ligier and then in the Oreca he had not done… but now it’s a completely different Oreca than we drove.”

Dual-Series European Crew Working as One

While Fassbender ruled out further IMSA races for Inter Europol, the team nonetheless has a busy program in Europe this year with its single-car WEC LMP2 entry complemented by two Ligier JS P320 Nissans running in the European Le Mans Series.

According to Fassbender, the two programs share the organization’s crew of around 15 full-time members, which yields benefits from financial and performance perspectives.

“For us, it’s mandatory to have the crew completely together,” said Fassbender.

“With six races in WEC, they do not have [enough] work to pay them 12 months.

“So that’s why we go with the crew like this, to find a consensus between not working too much but having more work than six races.

“This is how we can secure more quality. I wanted to ensure that the people are staying close to the team, not working for this team here and then going to another team the next week.”

Inter Europol recently announced that former FIA Formula 2 driver Louis Deletraz will join Smiechowski and Alex Brundle for the Portimao and Fuji WEC rounds, in place of Renger van der Zande who has clashing IMSA commitments on those weekends.

It recently finished fifth in class on its WEC debut with the Oreca at Spa-Francorchamps and will run the car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in August.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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