ByKolles is pushing on with the development of its Le Mans Hypercar and hopes to give the non-hybrid prototype its first rollout “in the next four or five weeks” ahead of an FIA World Endurance Championship campaign next year.
Company boss Dr. Colin Kolles told Sportscar365 that the constructor and race team has been building up its LMH contender throughout the summer months in preparation for a pre-homologation testing program and a 2022 race debut.
Experienced LMP1 competitor ByKolles first emerged as a potential entrant in the WEC’s new Hypercar class back in 2018, while it revealed the preliminary design of its car built to the LMH regulations almost exactly 12 months ago.
The most recent official word from the program came in April when ByKolles announced Tom Dillmann and Esteban Guerrieri as its LMH development drivers.
“Basically the car is being built up now,” said Kolles. “The status is that the last time I was in the workshop last week, the monocoque was there and the engine was mounted to the monocoque.
“The gearbox and the suspension were on the monocoque. This was the status. The wiring and electronics were in the loom, as of last week.”
When asked if he is confident about the first rollout taking place this year, Kolles replied: “We hope to run the car in the next four or five weeks.
“Originally we would have been able to have the car on track already in February, but it made no sense. So we decided that we don’t put ourselves under pressure, like we did in the past years.
“And to be honest, for us it’s very important to have a good car and beat Toyota and the rest. This is the target.
ByKolles considered entering its LMH into this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, but this would have required it to apply for a full-season entry and pay the Hypercar manufacturer full-season fee. The team instead opted to switch its focus to a full-scale 2022 debut.
Article 3.2.3 of the Le Mans supplementary regulations states that “a competitor wishing to enter in the Hypercar category must take part in the Hypercar FIA World Endurance Championship”.
It’s understood that the company then encountered some gearbox-related delays this summer, which made it hard to determine when the car would run for the first time.
Kolles anticipates that the constructor will visit the “usual suspects” of testing venues such as Paul Ricard and Monza, following an initial rollout on home soil in Germany.
Testing will ultimately lead to the car’s homologation, which is locked in for five years.
“It’s a totally new car,” said Kolles. “There are no carry-over parts on this car, and we have to make it fit 100 percent. The quality of build has to be a very high standard.
“This was one of the weak points of the LMP1 car: we were rushing. We are not under time pressure right now.
“This is why the decision was made in February. We offered the ACO to run at Le Mans with the car, but they changed the regulations so that you cannot make a race-by-race entry as an LMH entrant.
“So we decided to skip one year and develop the car better, because it makes no sense to pay €500,000, for what?
“Obviously we want to go testing as soon as possible, because then the homologation will be done as late as possible, because you are bound to the homologation.”
The ByKolles LMH, which has been produced in-house at Greding in Bavaria, will be powered by what Kolles has described as an ‘optimized’ version of the Gibson GL458 V8 engine that ByKolles used in its ENSO CLM P1/01 car built to the LMP1 regulations.
“It’s the basis. It’s not the same engine – obviously there are some modifications,” he said.
“I think it’s more of an optimization. It’s for sure a new electronics system, totally different. Also the power and torque curves have to be adjusted to what is needed in LMH.”
The ByKolles racing car forms one pillar of the company’s triple-pronged ‘PMC Project’, which also includes the development of track day and road-legal siblings.
Two-Car WEC Program Under Consideration
Kolles is keen to field a pair of LMHs in the WEC next year, which if confirmed would represent an expansion of his outfit’s top-category involvement that previously focused on a single LMP1 entry.
The Austrian-flagged team’s last two-car program occurred in 2013 when it ran a pair of LMP2 entries under the Lotus banner.
However, Kolles noted that the possibility of a two-car commitment depends on the right economic factors falling into place.
“The plan is to have two cars, but you have to have the financing for two cars,” he said.
“We are working on this, but I cannot tell you if it is going to happen or not.
“What we know is that by the end of the year, we will have four monocoques. There will be three versions [of the car]: the WEC version, the track day version and the road car version.
“What we envisage is for sure to have the track day car and WEC car in full running conditions by the end of the year.”
If a two-car ByKolles bid emerges, the 2022 WEC field could feature as many as eight LMH-built Hypercars with Peugeot joining the fray alongside Toyota and Glickenhaus.
It is unclear when exactly Peugeot and ByKolles will compete for the first time, with the former currently working through its pre-track testing phase.
Sportscar365 understands that ByKolles is set to operate its LMH car under a different team name, with an announcement potentially coming next month.
Kolles wants his contender to become a “worldwide” product and expressed interest in competing in IMSA, although the North American sanctioning body has laid down strict rules for automakers wishing to run their cars in the WeatherTech Championship.
“We have a very clear plan. But to have a clear plan, you need a good product,” said Kolles.
“This product will be a high-end product where even the best engineers will look at the car and say that this is amazing.”