The Equivalence of Technology in LMP1 can change “at any time” in the wake of revised technical regulations for non-hybrids, according to ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil.
The new-look class made its debut in last weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening Total Six Hours of Spa, which saw a commanding run by Toyota over the best-performing LMP1 privateer team of Rebellion Racing, which finished two laps behind.
While established prior to the start of the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ and adjusted following last month’s Prologue pre-season test, Beaumesnil indicated the door is open for additional changes, potentially on a regular basis, in order to achieve a closer equivalency.
Previously, only a single EoT change was permitted per season, following the 24 Hours of Le Mans each year.
“The principle is for sure, the EoT we have established at the beginning is the one we think is a good one,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.
“But if it appears after we make data and performance analysis that it needs to be changed, we can change EoT at any time, of course.
“It has to be, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair.”
Beaumesnil explained they’ve established a target margin of 0.5 seconds per lap at Le Mans between the Toyotas and non-hybrids, with hybrid technology getting the advantage due to being the class reference.
It is calculated by the 20 percent quickest laps from each technology in the race, with the margin extrapolated depending on the circuit’s length.
Toyota’s pace advantage comes in addition to a targeted five-second quicker refueling time and a one-lap longer maximum stint limit at Le Mans, which could mean up to an eight-minute leg up on the competition in next month’s race.
Despite this, Beaumesnil said the performance allowances given to the non-hybrids has been a “gift” to help them close the gap, but not exceed the levels shown by the Toyotas.
“We need to prevent them from overshooting what is the state-of-the-art reference car because they have much less weight, much more fuel and much more aero allowance,” he said.
“You cannot say you will help the private teams to compete with the factory teams and keep all the principles we like. Otherwise we lose control and it becomes a mess.
“I know some people don’t think this, but it gives a real chance to privateers to be in the game.”
Vasselon: “If We Win, It’s Normal”
Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon has admitted that it would be more of a surprise if they lose a race this season, granted the performance and fuel advantages over the non-hybrids.
“If we win it’s normal and if we lose it would be a story,” he said. “At the end, this is the situation and we accept it.
“With the same regulations, we would have much more of an advantage in all areas. We have not stolen anything.”
When asked about the apparent disparity in the EoT prior to the start of Saturday’s race, Vasselon believes it’s still a “work in progress.”
“We have to trust the FIA and ACO as they have all of the data,” he said. “It’s very difficult to be spot-on immediately.”
Jani: “Third is the New First”
Rebellion Racing’s Neel Jani, however, has already conceded to Toyota, admitting it will be a near-impossible task to pull off a victory on sheer pace and efficiency this season under the current regulations.
“There’s this TV show ‘Orange is the New Black’. We say third is the new first!” Jani told Sportscar365 following last weekend’s Total Six Hours of Spa.
The Swiss team’s post-race press release stated that it is “obvious” that the EoT will have to be modified in order for them to “fight and offer a nice show” for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“The competition will not be attractive if the advantage of hybrids is not reviewed,” said Rebellion Vice President Calim Bouhadra.