FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Frederic Lequien has confirmed that no more performance reductions will be imposed on the LMP2 class this season as part of the process to ensure that it does not exceed the pace of the new Hypercar category.
The WEC’s second-tier prototype formula has already been handed two waves of restrictions to make it slower than Hypercar, which is designed to run around five seconds slower than the old LMP1 formula at ‘standard’ tracks and 10 seconds slower at Le Mans.
The first LMP2 restriction – a 40 horsepower output reduction to 560 hp – was announced in late 2019. After simulations and track tests, a further 27 hp was taken away and 20 kg added to all cars’ minimum weights this month. Low-downforce aero kits have been mandated.
Despite these measures, some LMP2s out-paced the Hypercar entries from Toyota Gazoo Racing and Alpine Endurance Team during the Prologue test at Spa this week.
Series organizer the Automobile Club de l’Ouest declared after the Prologue that it would not alter LMP2 and Hypercar performance for this weekend’s Total 6 Hours of Spa race, while that motion on the LMP2 side is to extend to the rest of the six-round season.
“I think that we just need to remind that this is the beginning of the story,” Lequien told reporters at Spa on Friday.
“When I’m saying that, I don’t want any misunderstanding. It is not because I don’t want to answer. But we all have to keep calm with this.
“I think that the potential of performance during all the season is there. It’s just the beginning.
“We’ll wait [until] the end of the race to have some facts, something we can really work on.
“At the moment, I would say that it’s not a big surprise, of course. After the race with all the data, everything we can have, we will see if we need to do anything or not.
“What we do believe is that the LMP2 will not [be] touched. We will not reduce the performance of the LMP2.”
Lequien’s comments come after the ACO’s director of competition, Thierry Bouvet, said on Wednesday that further performance restrictions on LMP2 would not be imposed in the short space of time leading up to the Spa season-opener.
At the time Bouvet also expressed an intention to ensure “stability” for LMP2 during the rest of the 2021 WEC season.
Hypercar Tweaks Subject to Spa Outcome
With LMP2 performance levels being held at the current 400 kW (536 hp) output and 950 kg minimum weight, the focus of stratification between the prototype classes now lands on whether the Hypercars can be given performance breaks after Spa.
The Hypercar class this season consists of the two Le Mans Hypercar machines from Toyota and a grandfathered non-hybrid LMP1 car that previously raced as a Rebellion R13 Gibson.
Lequien explained that patience and analysis will be needed before any changes to the stratification approach can be considered or made.
After its Prologue deficit, Toyota made significant strides during the third Free Practice session at Spa on Friday, as both of the manufacturer’s GR010 Hybrid LMH cars lapped underneath the 2:03 barrier to finish 1-2 in the overall leaderboard.
“We are not saying we are going to do it, because we strongly believe there is potential,” Lequien said regarding performance adjustments for the Hypercar category.
“This is just the beginning of a new category. Of course, there is no question about the fact that Hypercar is and will be the queen category. No question.
“We have had many things since the start of the week, but we must be very clear on this.”
ACO President Pierre Fillon added that the WEC’s technical team will “analyze all of the data” next week following the Spa race on Saturday.
“We don’t know if Toyota has potential to improve the car,” he said. “It’s a new car, so it’s too early to speak about that. It is no question not to have the Hypercar under LMP2.”