Two of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s four Bronze-rated LMP2 competitors have voiced support for greater recognition of their driver-category status in future seasons.
Frits van Eerd and Roberto Lacorte each told Sportscar365 during the 8 Hours of Bahrain weekend FIA-ranked Bronze drivers would support the idea of a Bronze-only class.
WEC rules currently state that LMP2 driver lineups must contain at least one Bronze or Silver-rated competitor.
While Bronze drivers are typically amateur racers, the inclusion of Silvers opens the possibility for teams to bring in young professional talent not yet upgraded to Gold status.
Cetilar Racing driver Lacorte, who is currently in his first WEC season, suggested that the slowing of LMP2 cars for the 2020-21 campaign will likely present an opportunity for more Bronze drivers to commit to the class.
LMP2 cars are being handed a 40 horsepower reduction next year to fit in with the projected lap times of the upcoming Le Mans Hypercar category, which is to replace LMP1.
“There are some ideas about the rules [for] Bronze drivers in LMP2,” said the Italian. “I think that’s a good idea because it brings a lot of investment, especially for next season.
“We know LMP2 will be slower in terms of horsepower, so it will be easier for Bronze drivers. A lot of Bronze [drivers] don’t want to race in LMP2 because the cars are very, very fast and you have to be very fit and focused.
“I like this way to race. I share it with Frits van Eerd, who is a friend of mine, and we like this kind of LMP2.
“I like the idea to introduce the Bronze driver for each LMP2 car in WEC. Maybe they have to divide the two different classifications, like in GT, but I think they won’t have enough cars for two classifications.
“I think the American rules [in IMSA which recently added a Bronze driver mandate] are not bad, for example.”
Racing Team Nederland’s van Eerd, who became the first Bronze-rated LMP2 driver to win a WEC race at Fuji this year, revealed that teams in the class have informally proposed the idea of a different class structure to the series organizers.
“It’s completely logical,” van Eerd told Sportscar365.
“What happens now is that we don’t understand the rule of having a Silver and Bronze driver because the difference between the two is huge.
“We as Bronze drivers don’t want it to be that big a difference, but that is the fact.
“We talked about this with the organization and now they say that maybe a better idea is that all LMP2 teams should have a bronze driver.
“For me, racing is all about passion and I love it. But at the end, if you want to stay in this kind of racing, then there must be a level playing field.
“For me, it would be a huge present if they would make it that we all have to have a bronze driver. That would be fantastic.”
WEC CEO Gerard Neveu has acknowledged the concerns of the championship’s Bronze LMP2 competitors, whose entries make up half of the class grid this season.
He suggested that the championship will use the winter break between last weekend’s 8 Hours of Bahrain and the 6 Hours of COTA in February to consider any rules changes.
For the 2019-20 season, the WEC introduced a new place on the LMP2 podium for the highest-finishing Bronze driver at each round as a way of creating more visibility.
“The idea to say that do we have to protect the position for the Bronze driver, it can be a good question. It’s a question on the table,” said Neveu.
“This is one thing we have to investigate for sure. I don’t know the answer, but it has to be a global discussion and we have to make the simulations. This is something we have to consider and investigate.
“We will use the winter for that. It has to be decided before we publish the regulations for the coming season in March.”
John Dagys contributed to this report