The FIA World Endurance Championship does not plan to make changes to LMP2 or Hypercar performance levels ahead of this weekend’s Total 6 Hours of Spa, according to series organizer the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s head of competition Thierry Bouvet.
The Hypercar-class machinery from Toyota, which is running a pair of hybrid Le Mans Hypercars, and Alpine Endurance Team which has a single non-hybrid LMP1, were beaten to the best overall lap in a two-day test held at Spa across Monday and Tuesday.
This came despite the LMP2 cars running with increased weight, reduced power and a low-downforce aero kit designed specifically for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The results led Toyota to call for the WEC to look into the comparative times between the two prototype classes, while the head of Alpine’s program suggested that it would be a “disaster” to add further restrictions to LMP2 before Saturday’s season-opening race.
Bouvet explained on Wednesday that the WEC’s technical department has decided not to implement changes between the Prologue and the 6 Hours of Spa.
“To put a bit of background and to have a wider view, we did lots of work in terms of simulation work and car analysis before this event,” Bouvet told Sportscar365 during a press conference at Spa.
“We did, with the new homologation process of Hypercar, put the car in wind tunnels. We now have torque meters which measure the power output of the engine.
“Obviously weight is another parameter which is important for performance. Finally, we have two options of tires for Hypercar.
“The work that has been done, some of it has been done in conjunction with the manufacturers. We know that we had to reposition LMP2 to allow [for] ‘stratification’.
“That’s what we’ve done. There have been a few changes and some of them recently. This is purely for stratification.
“To answer more on the fact – the question was will there be more changes – the answer is, clearly, not at this point.”
The WEC has issued an updated Hypercar Balance of Performance for Spa, although Bouvet explained that this only “corrects some mistakes” from the original version.
The grandfathered Alpine A480 Gibson LMP1 car has needed to be pegged back for the 2021 WEC season in order to compete with the new Le Mans Hypercars which are several seconds slower than the LMP1 formula.
The ORECA-built Alpine’s original Spa BoP set it at 450 kw (603 hp) and 930 kg. The power output now stands as 454 kW (608 hp).
“The BoP or the first parameter elements for Hypercar will remain unchanged,” said Bouvet.
“You will find some changes on the BoP… but this is not actually changed on the BoP because the cars were already in that position during the Prologue.”
Bouvet also appeared to indicate that the WEC is aiming to avoid further LMP2 restrictions beyond the most recent set of measures put into place earlier in April.
Those changes brought a 20 kg weight increase, bringing LMP2 to 950 kg, and a power reduction equating to around 27 hp. Before that, the LMP2s had already been reined in from approximately 600 hp to 560 hp.
“The idea is to have stability for LMP2, from now on,” said Bouvet. “We had to do a change, but the idea is clearly to stay on this road and stop moving things around.”
The FIA’s Director of Sport and Touring Cars Marek Nawarecki added: “The more stable are the regulations after this adjustment, the easier it is for the teams to adapt to it. This is our goal.”
Albuquerque: LMP2 Had “No More Roads to Go”
The decision not to apply further restrictions to the LMP2s was welcomed by United Autosports driver Filipe Albuquerque, who said there were “no more roads to go” for the class in terms of performance at Spa.
The reigning WEC and European Le Mans Series LMP2 champion was one of three drivers – along with Nyck de Vries and Anthony Davidson – to lap faster than all Hypercars at the Prologue.
“They cannot give us more weight because then we need to go through FIA standards in terms of crash tests,” Albuquerque told Sportscar365.
“Reducing power… from La Source to Eau Rouge we can barely pass a GT simply because we don’t have enough power to go there and we are on a low-downforce kit.
“The long stint is going to be very hard for us to drive, and we are talking in cold conditions. So if you take weight or downforce or power, it becomes very, very tricky to drive.”
Albuquerque reckons that the maintained performance levels between the Prologue and Spa might give the LMP2 cars an opportunity to challenge for an outright pole position.
The WEC’s new single-driver qualifying format could facilitate that possibility, with LMP2 teams no longer required to take an average score across their three-driver lineups that must include either a Silver or Bronze-rated competitor.
“I think in qualifying maybe it’s going to be very close to the Hypercars,” said Albuquerque.
“In the race, I think it’s going to be a little bit easier for them because their tire behaves much better over two long runs, which is good.
“But I think in the long runs, going into Le Mans, they need to rethink a little bit how they can make the LMH faster and not pointing at LMP2, because it will create a chain of events. If you slow down LMP2, you need to slow the GTEs.”
John Dagys contributed to this report