The FIA and ACO have not ruled out a possible reduction in performance for the new LMP2 cars, following higher-than-expected speeds seen in initial testing and some concerns about drivability for less-experienced gentlemen drivers.
The new-for-2017 platform features a spec Gibson V8 powerplant, estimated to produce in excess of 600 horsepower, nearly 80 horsepower more than the current WEC/ELMS LMP2 machinery.
A representative from one of the four constructors indicated the cars may be too fast for comfort, particularly with keeping the Pro-Am driver pairing aspect in mind.
It’s understood current simulation predictions put the 2017-spec P2 cars with sub-3:30 laps at Le Mans, with an 8-10 second per lap increase. It translates to at least a 3-4 second increase at typical tracks.
Three of the four constructors have already begun testing with its Gibson-engined cars, with Onroak Automotive having been the first with its Ligier JS P217 last month with development driver Olivier Pla.
“They made the engine very drivable,” Pla told Sportscar365. “All of the power is at the top-end. It’s easy to drive but of course the car is fast.
“I think for some gentlemen it will be good, for others, it maybe will be difficult. For sure it’s become a very fast car, but also a very nice car to drive.”
ACO President Pierre Fillon said they are monitoring the situation but have not yet made any decisions to adjust performance levels.
“Safety is our priority. If we need to adapt the rules, we will make a decision,” he said.
FIA WEC boss Gerard Neveu, meanwhile, downplayed the early reports from drivers.
“This is a first feeling, a first impression after a small number of testing with three or four different cars,” Neveu said. “We have to stay cool. Let them do the reporting.
“There is testing during the winter, there’s the Prologue, there’s many options to see exactly what’s going on.
“The teams will be in the best position to report regarding the Bronze driver and everything like this and how quick the cars are.
“We have to wait to have a certain experience with these new cars, to start to do some conclusions and to adapt the regulations if necessary.”
It’s unclear if any potential performance change from the ACO and FIA could impact IMSA’s Prototype category, which will feature DPi and LMP2 machinery, with the P2 platform being utilized as the baseline.
The cars will make their competition debuts in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, with the European season opening at Silverstone in April for both the WEC and ELMS.