Despite taking knowledge from its LMP2 counterpart, the Dallara-built BR1 is a “completely new” car according to BR Engineering President Boris Rotenberg.
The Russian LMP1 non-hybrid car was unveiled last weekend in Bahrain, which will see two AER-powered entries fielded by SMP Racing and a Gibson-engined BR1 from DragonSpeed in the FIA World Endurance Championship next season.
When compared to Dallara’s P217, Rotenberg said there’s virtually no carryover, with the BR1 even having a completely different tub design that’s optimized for LMP1 non-hybrid technical regulations.
“I was thinking about it today. I was trying to find the same detail. So far I’ve found the steering wheel… Honestly, it’s completely new,” Rotenberg told Sportscar365.
While involving Russian university students, the design and development of the car has largely been undertaken by Dallara, marking its first bespoke top-level prototype in more than 15 years.
However, according to chief designer Luca Pignacca, the knowledge base gained from its new-for-2017 LMP2 car has helped create an even stronger package for LMP1.
“The experience we made with the LMP2 car was extremely important to design the LMP1 car,” Pignacca told Sportscar365.
“But when you have to design a car that must be 100kg lighter than the LMP2, you have to start from a white sheet of paper. Every single part must be bespoke and different.
“For engineers, the LMP1 regulations are really a piece of cake because we have much more freedom than LMP2 in order to fix the mistakes and do some development, finally, at reasonable costs.”
Positive First Test Despite Accident
Pignacca said it’s been a “very good start” to the BR1’s testing program, with the car having completed 1,000 kilometers in a two-day test at Motorland Aragon last week.
It came following an initial rollout at Varano, which was more or less a systems check.
“The drivers were very happy, our engineers were very happy,” Pignacca said.
“The aero figures we collected were correlating very well with what had with CFD. The engine ran without any problem at all. The temperatures were really good.
“Every single modification to the car’s setup was felt by the drivers. So it’s been a very good start.”
SMP Racing Sporting Director Mika Salo, however, confirmed the test ended early due to an accident from Mikhail Aleshin, which the Finn said was triggered by a parts failure.
Aleshin sustained an injury to his arm from the crash and was present at the car’s launch last week wearing a sling.
Acknowledging the accident, Dallara’s Pignacca indicated that it’s often a normal part of a car’s early development cycle.
“You go testing whether to see if something if fails or not,” he said.
“Normally you have two different approaches. Either you start very conservative and then you try to take some weight off the car, or you do the other way around.
“I think the most efficient, and the winning one, is that you start light and see if something breaks.”
Additional Customers Possible for 2018/19
Rotenberg said additional customers for the WEC’s ‘Super Season’ is possible beyond the already confirmed DragonSpeed entry.
The American-flagged team will utilize an upstaged version of Gibson’s LMP2 engine, with the car also able to be fitted with the 3.4-liter twin-turbo Mecachrome powerplant that will be used in Ginetta’s new-for-2018 LMP1 car.
It’s understood at least one existing WEC LMP2 team is evaluating the purchase of a BR1, which could make it the most-represented LMP1 car on the grid next season.
“Something we’re good at is making a lot of cars,” Pignacca said. “Realistically if we have to make 2 or 3 cars more, it’s not going to be a problem.
“BR Engineering would be very happy about this.”