The LMP1 privateer class could get a significant boost in the form of a third lightweight prototype joining the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Onroak Automotive, constructors of the Ligier JS P2 and Morgan LMP2 chassis, has continued to evaluate the possibility of building its own LMP1-L car for 2015.
Company President and OAK Racing team owner Jacques Nicolet outlined his ambitions last weekend at Le Mans of offering a full line of Ligier prototypes to complete the endurance racing ladder.
The French manufacturer currently offers the Ligier JS 53 Evo CN car and the Ligier JS P2, the latter which made a successful debut at Le Mans in LMP2. Plans are in the works for a LMP3 version, with LMP1 remaining as the final piece.
“The design office started the project more than one year ago,” team principal Philippe Dumas told Sportscar365. “For sure, we have something in our pockets but we need to wait and see how the rules are.
“Jaques wants to build something strong after LMP2. But we need to understand what will happen in the near future, and definitely what will happen to LMP2 in the WEC next year.”
The Ligier JS P2, which was on course for a 1-2 class finish at Le Mans until late-race engine and suspension issues for the OAK Racing and Thiriet by TDS Racing entries, respectively, is based off Onroak’s initial LMP1 design.
While sharing the same tub, the complexities of the new-for-2014 LMP1 regulations doesn’t make building a LMP1 car as easy as it looks, according to the former Hexis Racing team manager.
“It’s definitely a huge amount of work to change [from LMP2],” Dumas said. “LMP1 is not an easy project with the fuel consumption. It’s another world. I don’t want to say it’s easy to put a LMP2 car on track because it’s not. But it works at the moment.”
A potential Ligier LMP1-L would join the existing Rebellion R-One Toyota, which is fresh off a fourth-place overall finish at Le Mans, as well as the delayed Lotus P1/01 that is now slated to make its debut in the next FIA WEC round at the Circuit of The Americas in September
Dumas, though, is not 100 convinced LMP1-L is the right direction to take at the moment, but does see its potential if more teams and constructors become involved.
“It would be good if LMP1-L has more people and more relationships with manufacturers, like a junior team. But in my point of view, I don’t want to do like Rebellion has done. It’s a huge amount of money, it’s a big project and at the moment.
“We really need to think about the concept together with the ACO, FIA and very important motorsport people like Jacques Nicolet and Hugues de Chaunac. Because at the moment, I don’t have a good feeling about LMP1-L.”
Dumas said a decision on Onroak’s LMP1 project would have to be made in the coming weeks if they want to be on the grid next year.