The ACO has reaffirmed its commitment to the future of the LMP1 Privateers, having formed a working group amongst current and prospective teams and manufacturers to outline a potential new set of privateer-specific regulations for as early as 2017.
ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil met with competitors at last weekend’s FIA WEC season finale in Bahrain, with a long-term view of creating stability within the subclass, which has struggled for entries and in performance to the factory hybrid prototypes.
“We believe there is a future for LMP1 Privateer,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.
“Especially if you consider now with the new LMP2 rules, which is definitely a choice we made and we’re very confident in this choice, but you have alongside some manufacturers that want to build and run their [own] cars.
“We think this combined with the fact that having a strong field of LMP1 is also important because of the tradition.
“It’s the history and also because manufacturers come and go. Sometimes, you are happy to have a strong field of LMP1 Privateers to make your grid.
“We have put around the table all the parties involved, the people running cars today and the ones who have the intention to run cars in the future, just to start to work together and think about how we could evolve to make it more attractive corresponding to their targets.”
It’s understood representatives from current LMP1 Privateer teams Rebellion Racing and ByKolles Racing were in attendance, along with prospective teams and constructors including Strakka Racing, Greaves Motorsport and BR Engineering.
Beaumesnil stressed the meeting was just a starting point, with no decisions made, although confirming the talks are geared towards 2017-18, as it would be too late to make changes to the regulations for next year.
“For sure it has to be some specific rules in some aspects,” he said. “We see with the rules today, even if they have a specific rule, it’s not enough. We definitely want to reduce the gap [to the LMP1 hybrids].
“We have to evaluate what can be done for the engine, should we switch to another kind of regulation? Should we stick with restricting the fuel or not?
“The new [LMP1] monocoque chassis rules are coming out for ’18, so how do we manage that with them? I don’t have the answer.”
For the short-term, there’s been discussions of selected existing LMP2 cars possibly being eligible for LMP1-L with modifications, particularly to the engines, although Beaumesnil would not comment.
“What I can say is that for ’16 it will be like this year, for sure,” he said. “You cannot change it now. But now the working group is starting.”
Beaumesnil said a target of 8-10 LMP1 Privateer cars on the grid by 2017-18 is a realistic target, given the current amount of interest.
“There’s some people that are ready to build cars to come in P1,” he said. “They cannot build a car to run in P2 as it’s finished. So they want to do it somewhere.
“Also racing in the top category is very attractive for them.”