All three BR Engineering BR1 prototypes have undergone aero adjustments ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in reaction to the airborne accident involving Matevos Isaakyan in last month’s Total Six Hours of Spa.
Both the AER-powered SMP Racing LMP1 cars and the sole Gibson-engined DragonSpeed machine have been subject to aero changes imposed by the Russian manufacturer, which are designed to increase front-end downforce.
It’s understood the changes are primarily to the front wheel cut-outs, which have been modified with a bolt-on piece (pictured above) that was visible at scrutineering on Friday.
While the modifications have been made past the April 18 Le Mans bodywork homologation deadline, Sportscar365 understands the safety-related changes were approved on grounds of force majeure.
Isaakyan walked away from a wild accident in the closing stages of the FIA World Endurance Championship season opener, in which the No. 17 SMP Racing BR1 flew out of the high-speed Eau Rouge and into the right-side barriers.
“The take-off of the car was the result of a coincidence of many factors, which is very rare, but it still happened,” a BR Engineering spokesperson told Sportscar365.
“We are working very closely with the FIA to minimize or totally eliminate the possibility that the car will fly again.
“It’s some aero changes in the front part of the car to increase the front downforce and make it more balanced at the front.
“We will keep monitoring the data on the three cars during the test tomorrow, and we will share everything with the FIA because they also want to see how it’s going.”
Isaakyan’s crash reportedly resulted in no damage to the No. 17 car’s tub, while the engine, gearbox and bellhousing also survived the impact.
Remarkably, it means the chassis that Isaakyan will share with Egor Orudzhev and Stephane Sarrazin at Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day is the same that ran at Spa.
Ex-Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button will drive the sister SMP BR1 with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov, while DragonSpeed’s entry features Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman and Renger van der Zande.
Changes to Have “Negative Impact” on Pace
The BR spokesperson indicated that the implementation of the aero changes will have an impact on the speed of the BR1s at the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
“It will have some negative effect on performance,” he said.
“Just a few tenths, a few kilometers per hour – we need to see. Because we made some modification to the Le Mans kit and we made some setup limits beyond which the teams shouldn’t go.
“We are quite confident. It should be OK. You never know in Le Mans, but it should be OK. We made enough miles with the engine during the test, and we made Spa. So it should be good.”