ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil has revealed its newly permitted adjustments to driver rating requirements in certain lineups will only be on a “case by case” basis.
The development comes in the wake of Henrik Hedman, a Bronze-rated driver by the FIA, set to be allowed to compete in LMP1 this season despite the World Endurance Championship sporting regulations prohibiting Bronze drivers in the class.
At least one other exception is expected to also be made this year, for the European Le Mans Series LMP2 class, which mandates at least one Bronze or Silver-rated driver per lineup.
The permitted exceptions come in wake of a modification to the WEC sporting regulations for 2018, which states that a committee made up of representatives from the FIA, ACO and LMEM may grant “temporary dispensation” from the rule on the driver lineup compositions at the request of the competitor, granted it doesn’t compromise track safety or give the team a sporting advantage.
Beaumesnil has stressed that the rule does not re-classify the driver, but rather allows the possibility of an adjusted lineup under specified conditions in order to “protect” gentlemen drivers.
“We’re just giving ourselves the opportunity to do it on a case by case [basis], all in the strict respect of sporting equity,” he told Endurance-Info.
“We intervene on the lineup, not on the [driver] categorization.
“The performances of the drivers will be followed throughout the season. If we notice a bad surprise, then we can change this layout.
“This rule applies to both the WEC and ELMS. I repeat, there is no question of intervening on the categorization.”
When asked specifically about the situation in LMP1, Beaumesnil said it’s not possible for all Bronze-rated drivers to compete in the top class.
“Driving in LMP1 is not allowed for everyone,” he said. “However, it’s possible to accept, on a case-by-case basis, a driver who has sufficient experience, in particular in LMP2.”
Hedman, an overall race-winner in ELMS LMP2 competition, was the first confirmed driver in DragonSpeed’s lineup in its new BR Engineering BR1 Gibson, alongside Ben Hanley and Renger van der Zande.
The U.S.-based Swede will also take part in his third consecutive season in ELMS this year, again at the wheel of an Oreca 07 Gibson.
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report