DragonSpeed is considering resurrecting its BR Engineering BR1 Gibson LMP1 car for a possible run in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s top class next year according to team principal Elton Julian.
The American-flagged team, which currently competes in the LMP2 Pro-Am category with an Oreca 07 Gibson, could enter the Dallara-built prototype under the FIA’s recent extension of its grandfathering rules for 2022.
It would join Alpine Endurance Team on the grid with a LMP1 car in the Hypercar class.
DragonSpeed campaigned the car during the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ but it has sat idle since the team re-focused its efforts around LMP2 in the WEC, European Le Mans Series and selected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events.
“Obviously with P2 going trough its fluctuations of spec and a rumored even further slowdown, we never stopped looking at the possibility of doing something with the P1 car again,” Julian told Sportscar365.
“But ask Glickenhaus and Alpine and what we’ve experienced in the past, the people that want to pay for it ask for certain parameters to really have a chance [of the win].
“Our car is probably 8 seconds per lap faster than what’s on track right now.
“In the past they said, ‘You can’t catch us.’ We couldn’t. Now we’re faster than [LMH cars] but still have no guarantee that we have a chance to compete.
“I think when that question is answered we can actually begin to put pen to paper and move forward.”
Julian said there’s “renewed interest” in returning to the top category as long as the BoP can be competitive for the grandfathered LMP1s, which are unlikely to be eligible past the 2022 season.
“I want to be in the top class again,” he said. “We moved up to the top class to be in the top class and still have the material.
“The car, fortunately, is still worth something in that it can race next year.
“It comes with a hefty fee — probably 500,000 Euros to re-homologate it without having to change anything on the car — just to add a sentence in the rulebook.
“That’s the way it is and that’s what Alpine had to do I think.
“Our backers are interested in the concept as a stop-gap to going back go IndyCar or do LMDh.”
Julian believes the Russian-badged LMP1 car, detuned to current Hypercar class specifications, could be a reliable contender after having “reached its limit” during the 2018-19 season.
“I would be keen on putting that thing back on track knowing that we’d be asking it to run well within its tolerances,” he said.
“The problem with that car was that we were doing 3:18s at Le Mans. We did a 1:42.8 at Sebring, which in that moment broke the all-time track record only for Toyota that night to go quicker than us to take it back.
“It was on the limit. We were trying to go too fast with too cheap of a car.
“If I’m supposed to detune it and just cruise around, I could fix all of the issues that we’ve had and it would be a nice runner.
“But nobody wants to run around with no chance. How does it fare for a privateer?
“When people want to back you to do things — which I’ve been fortunate enough to have people back me in concepts and ideas I’ve had — we got slapped pretty hard the first time around [in 2018].
“Not only was the BoP nowhere near close enough, then the formula was changed at our second event.
“We really didn’t put a lot more into it after its second race because we had been told the formula was going to move on, so why would we throw our money at it?
“It doesn’t have [to be at its peak performance] now. It will run fine but nobody wants to run two laps down in a six-hour race.”
Julian said other options for 2022 include a return to the LMP2 ranks, although has likely ruled out a program in the European Le Mans Series.
“It’s always an option to continue in LMP2 [in WEC],” he said. “The teams are incredible in LMP2.
“We’re here fighting for a title for a category that was an important category they created. It’s one of the best fights out there with talented drivers and teams going at it.”