The ACO has declared the LMP3 platform a success, following the debut of two new manufacturers in last weekend’s Asian Le Mans Series round, and a pair of additional new models on their way.
The Ligier JS P3 and ADESS-03 made their competition debuts in Fuji, joining Ginetta with race-ready LMP3 offerings in the new-for-2015 prototype platform, which is quickly gaining momentum across Europe.
With more than 20 Ligiers on order and a dozen Ginettas already running, ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil admitted the junior prototype formula has surpassed their initial expectations.
“We’re very happy to see the LMP3 becoming a success,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365. “We have good signs.
“When we decided to do LMP3, there were very good guys like Lawrence Tomlinson (Ginetta), who were very courageous to say, ‘I believe in the concept and I go.’ These guys started and there were others involved.
“Then there were many others that did not make the decision, now they see it’s a success and everyone wants to go.
“This is why we said we have to control this; we have to make limits. This is why we’ve limited [participation] to five manufacturers because we don’t want the market to become crazy.”
The LMP3 market will be represented by manufacturers on three continents, with the North Carolina-based Ave-Riley joint effort set to begin testing of its AR-02 shortly, and recent confirmation of Dome becoming the fifth and final approved constructor.
“The two strong points for Dome was that it’s a very well known company with good reputation as a car manufacturer,” Beaumesnil said.
“So we have no doubt they have the ability to make a good car. And they are based in Asia and we we’re very seduced that we have one manufacturer based in Asia.”
Three LMP3 entries were in action in last weekend’s Asian LMS season opener, and more expected over the course of the season, while there’s five of the junior prototypes set for this weekend’s European Le Mans Series season finale in Estoril.
It’s understood the P3 class could reach double-digit car counts in the ELMS next year, based on the current level of interest.
“I think we have a good field of cars with good quality,” Beaumesnil said. “We [have exceeded] our expectations this year.
“We were very cautious with our prediction of number of cars running. We predicted a good number for the first year. In the end, it’s growing up very fast now.”
With a foothold already in Europe and Asia with the continental Le Mans championships, the ACO is now working hard to secure a North American championship for the cars to compete in.
While it appears that IMSA will not embrace LMP3 in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Beaumesnil is hopeful of finding an alternative.
“It’s very important,” he said. “We hope we will manage something soon. We’re still in contact and definitely hope we’ll have these cars race in the U.S. for sure.
“It’s not our decision but we’re discussing as partners, as we always do, with IMSA.”
One possibility could be allowing another U.S. series to run LMP3 cars, as has been the case with the platform in Europe with the VdV Endurance Series and FFSA GT Tour, as well as other national championships.
“It’s a case-by-case question,” Beaumesnil said. “What we require is that any championship who had the intention to open their grid to LMP3 must, prior to that, ask for the authorization from the ACO. It’s for us a very important way to control this.”