The Michelin Le Mans Cup has introduced a new pit stop handicap system designed to rein in the fastest FIA Bronze-rated drivers in the championship’s LMP3 and GT3 classes.
For the 2021 season, Bronze racers who lap within the Silver drivers’ performance range will be assigned a Bronze+ categorization and penalized according to their relative pace.
Since its inaugural season in 2016, the Le Mans Cup has required driver pairings to include one Bronze competitor.
A series statement announcing the use of pit stop handicaps declared that in recent seasons, some Bronzes have been matching the pace of Silvers in the two-hour races.
This, according to the Le Mans Cup, has led to some Bronze competitors gaining an “unfair advantage over their fellow amateur racers”.
The pit stop handicap system has been designed to address this disparity. It has been confirmed in article 6.3 of the 2021 sporting regulations.
The process will register the pace of each Silver driver and each Bronze.
Different time penalties will be added to each car’s mandatory pit stop for the next race depending on how their Bronze+ drivers’ lap times compare with the range of Silvers.
Bronze+ drivers lapping in the top quarter of the Silver drivers’ range will receive a 120-second pit penalty, while those who land in the next quarter will get 80 seconds.
Penalties of 50 seconds and 20 seconds will be applied to drivers lapping in the third and fourth quarters of the Silver spread.
Bronze drivers who lap slower than the slowest Silver driver won’t receive a handicap. Only those within the Silver range will be classified as Bronze+.
In the GT3 class, this new system of driver performance equalization will operate alongside the continuing Balance of Performance system that affects car types.
The Le Mans Cup has said that it will publish a full report of its results from the season-opening round at Barcelona in April.