With three-tenths of a second separating Toyota, Audi and Porsche in qualifying, not many could have imagined a closer battle heading into the debut race of the highly anticipated new-for-2014 LMP1 regulations.
ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil is pleased with the outcome he saw Saturday at Silverstone, as teams prepare for what could be one of the most unpredictable races in the history of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“You can see that the three cars that are radically different,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.
“If you look in details at the technical point of view, they are really three different cars. The powertrains are different and the aerodynamics are different. They all made different choices.
“But in the end, the level of equivalence is fantastic because they’re all together. It also means that the rules have been well established. We can see that if you have a diesel or a gasoline car, you can be at the same performance.
“For us, we are very enthusiastic about that. Now we need to see how it happens in a long race. It’s only qualifying now. But it’s been real teamwork with them. All of the technical people are connected every minute with the three manufacturers.”
The new regulations sees the introduction of fuel flow meters into the FIA WEC, a near identical system that’s also now used in Formula One.
Beaumesnil said he’s been pleased with the reliability of the systems so far and doesn’t expect any issues to develop in the race.
While the new fuel allocation rules has resulted in drivers having to adjust their driving style, it’s already produced quicker lap times, proving the level of development that went into each of the LMP1-H entries for this year.
“It’s also a new way of driving for the drivers, but in the end if you look at the lap times, they are faster than last year with a big amount of fuel removed,” Beaumesnil said.
“I cannot say the figures but the target is a 30 [percent reduction] for a 8 MJ system. You can imagine they are a little bit under [right now].
“But it means a very hard push considering lap times have improved. It’s not an economy race. It’s a real race and has been one of the priorities of these rules and it has been managed well.”
As for Sunday’s race, Beaumesnil expects a close fight, although the likelihood of rain could throw a curveball into the strategy for all three teams.
“It depends on the weather and other things,” he said. “Maybe the cars are close on this setup, and the choices they make for the setup in the wet will be different; I don’t know.
“But we now know they are close and it’s the greatest news for us.”