Two-time European Le Mans Series class champion Nicolas Armindo has decided to hang up his helmet, largely due to the “discriminatory” policies of driver ratings and Balance of Performance that has ridden sports car racing in recent years. (En Français)
“I’ve only lived for motorsport but I no longer want to fight against the system,” Armindo told Endurance-Info.
The 34-year-old Frenchman, a former Porsche Carrera Cup Germany champion, had been touted as one of Europe’s most promising GT racing talents nearly a decade ago, having been closely linked with Porsche through the years.
While never having secured a factory drive with the German manufacturer, Armindo, a Gold-rated driver by the FIA, admitted he’s faced challenges in just being able to find a competitive ride, due to the evolving landscape of the sport.
“You have to be in the right car and co-drivers to have good results,” he said. “You have to have a good BoP, otherwise you’re not able to showcase yourself.
“It’s like Rafael Nadal playing with 5kg on his wrist. It’s discriminating. We cannot find it in any other sport.
“I started in a Porsche 996 Cup, where we had to do the heel-toe. The 996 Cup car was fitted with slick [tires]. The car was very hard to drive but I managed to do well.
“There, a driver without money could be noticed. Today, it’s no longer possible.
“Take the example of Olivier Pla, who certainly is one of best endurance drivers in the world. How long did it take for him to be recognized at his fair value?”
Armindo argues that driver ratings in Pro-Am-enforced classes has come as a detriment to professional drivers like himself that have been trying to make a living in the sport.
“There are too many Gold drivers that no longer have rides,” he said. “Gold drivers are being asked to pay for a ride and Silvers are being paid.
“It highlights that the drivers who have the least [amount] of experience and others remain on the sidelines. The teams are seeking the quickest Bronze and Silver-rated drivers.
“If I were a Silver, I would be paid to race in the U.S. or Europe.
“There are more challenges but as a competitor, I like challenges… But I have given enough time, energy and money, that I too have gone without recognition… Gold is no longer valued.”
The former IMSA Performance driver, who finished 2nd in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012, says BoP is also ruining the sport.
“The system in place is discriminatory and arbitrary,” Armindo said. “How can you ask a driver not to go too fast early in the season so the manufacturer is not penalized by BoP?
“This is [currently] the case in Europe and the U.S. and among all manufacturers.
“The organizers are doing what they can to monitor things. Does a driver lift his foot voluntarily not to be a champion because a title can change [BoP]?
“A title can change the future of the driver, not only for the BoP. If you win the title as a Silver, you will be Gold the next season. So for this reason, it’s better to loose the title.
“I agree in principle that BoP is needed but only if everything is transparent and those who do not show the full potential are penalized.”
Armindo, who since 2010 has run a business in France alongside his racing commitments in order to stay involved in the sport, said he’s going to turn his attention to that and his family before potentially considering a return to the motorsports world.
“I’ve been a dad or six months and I’m going to enjoy my family,” he said. “I still have many years of work ahead of me. We’ll see later for motorsport.”