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Claes: Hypercar a “Complex Question” for Dallara

Dallara project manager suggests Hypercar program unlikely for renowned chassis builder…

Photo: MPS Agency

Dallara project manager Jos Claes says the FIA World Endurance Championship’s new Hypercar category presents a “complex question” for the Italian race car constructor.

Dallara, which is currently involved in WEC as an LMP2 supplier, appears unlikely to launch a program for the new formula debuting next year with Claes describing its chances as “distant”.

However, he wouldn’t entirely rule out the company’s involvement, suggesting that a project could be feasible if it found a suitable partner.

Much like ORECA, which is understood to be seeking a partner for Hypercar by the end of this year, Dallara’s best chance of entering would be to forge a link with an OEM manufacturer or large team effort.

“It’s a complex question,” Claes told Endurance-Info.

“We, as a manufacturer, for products bearing our name, could create a car with the Dallara name and try to find private teams to buy them.

“If there is a manufacturer or other who comes to consult us for aerodynamics, a design or even a construction, the study of the [chassis], that’s possible.

“We spend a lot of time offering our services around. We speak with several manufacturers, but this is a distant [idea].”

Claes said that Dallara is “ready to move when possible” towards Hypercar but is finding it increasingly difficult to see the case for committing to a program.

Dallara, which has a long history in LMP1, most recently developed the BR Engineering BR1 chassis that was entered by SMP Racing and DragonSpeed in the 2018-19 WEC season.

These cars haven’t returned for the 2019-20 campaign but Dallara is currently active in LMP2 and also works in developing open-wheel cars for various formulas.  

“I don’t expect there will be anything for the start of the season with the new regulations that will start in less than a year. I do not believe it,” explained Claes.

“It is not our choice to wait, but it is difficult to do otherwise, and it is very difficult to know what the manufacturers really think.

“We talk to the people who deal with these issues, but above them, there is a board that makes the decisions.

“The technicians make reports, put ideas on the table with budgets, and they have to wait to see if the board likes the idea or say, ‘we’ll see that, in six months, in a year…’

“Budgets are very important, it’s expensive, but it’s relative. If anyone wants to put down €30 or 40 million ($33-44 million USD) to win Le Mans, they can do it. It is still an extraordinary chance.”

Dallara in a Flux with LMP2 Chassis

On the subject of the company’s LMP2 program with the Dallara P217 Gibson, Claes admitted that it has been struggling to extract the car’s full potential.

Strict rules on chassis development, which is restricted to a single ‘joker’ plan that all constructors bar ORECA were given the chance to deploy, have impacted Dallara’s approach to a technical issue with its LMP2 package.

“In LMP2, we are blocked by the regulations. Normally, when you have a problem with a car, you do everything to solve the problem,” said Claes.

“When we realized, a little late, the problem, it was not possible to make the changes. We were given a joker to make these changes, but that only allowed us to solve a third of the problem, and [it came up] again.

“It’s an aerodynamic load problem on the front. We have a front part that does not work as it should, but the regulations do not allow us to change it completely.

“The situation is quite different [in IMSA]. Our chassis are powered by the Cadillac engine which is heavier than the Gibson engine, so the weight distribution is completely different. And so, the problem on the front is not manifested in the same way.”

Dallara currently has two cars entered in global LMP2 competition, with one car in the WEC with Cetilar Racing and another in the European Le Mans Series with Carlin.

The P217 Gibson took its only victory to date in 2017 and hasn’t taken a crew to the podium since that year’s ELMS campaign.

Recently, one LMP2 team manager running the dominant Oreca 07 chassis told Sportscar365 that it would be “too risky” for the class to end up with a single supplier

In North America, Dallara has six P217-turned-Cadillacs racing under IMSA’s DPi regs and has seen this package win the last two WeatherTech Championship drivers’ titles.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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