United Autosports managing director Richard Dean feels that the FIA and ACO should not make any performance-related changes to LMP2 machinery, indicating that it could come as a detriment to the platform’s success globally.
While having seen its homologation extended through 2022, LMP2 cars will face a reduction in performance beginning with the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season amid the arrival of the ‘Hypercar’ class that’s being targeted for lap times similar to current-spec LMP2 machinery.
It will lead to a reduction in performance for the Pro-Am-enforced class, in the range of four to five seconds per lap at Le Mans, according to ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil, who said the slowdown will likely be met with reduced engine performance, while stressing there will be no chassis-related changes.
Dean, who along with Zak Brown co-own the UK-based United Autosports outfit, is weary of any change at all.
“My personal view is that it’s a great idea not to change anything,” he told Sportscar365. “I’m all for not changing, but I wish they would just leave it alone.
“We’ve got 18 or 19 cars in the ELMS. Le Mans is also one of the strongest categories at Le Mans. As a simple lad from Leeds, if everything is going well, why would we change it?
“They’re slowing the cars down because they want them to come in behind what the predicted Hypercar lap time is, but it almost feels like we’re pretty close to being back where LMP2 was before we all invested millions of Euros in the new car.
“We could have saved everyone a lot of money if we all just went at the same pace.
“From my view, it sounds like Hypercar is wrong, because it’s not fast enough. If you’re having to slow everything else down and change all the rules to accommodate something.”
Jota Sport team principal Sam Hignett, meanwhile, doesn’t think the slowdown will be the “end of the world” for teams, stating that he believes the cars will still be marginally quicker than the previous-generation LMP2 machinery, which ran through the 2016 seasons.
“From what I gather, they will be somewhere between where the [previous-gen car] and the [current-gen], so I don’t think it will cause a riot to begin with,” Hignett told Sportscar365.
“There was not much they could do really, and I don’t think there’s a need to be concerned. They’re still quick cars and arguably they are a bit too quick for some of the gentlemen drivers now.
“It’s a shame to slow them down, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”
Dean believes the slowdown could negatively affect ELMS races, which feature LMP3 machinery that are set to see a small increase in engine performance for next year.
“It feels congested to me,” he said of the possible class separations. “I know it’s no concern of anybody in WEC what LMP3 does, but it is on an ELMS weekend.
“Whatever the lap time targets are, if Hypercars are doing 3:30, and they then want to slow LMP2 to a 3:35, that’s a five second spread at Le Mans, but what does that mean at Barcelona? It’s probably a two-second spread, at most.
“It’s just backing everything into LMP3 that’s going faster.
“When we do an ELMS weekend and we’ve got GTE, LMP3 and a slower LMP2 category, everybody liked the jump that LMP2 made because it allowed it to pass GTE cars in a straight line.
“I think [the new-gen] LMP3 cars around Barcelona are looking like they’re going to be two seconds a lap faster than they currently are. If we make an LMP2 slower, we’re creating another problem somewhere else.”
Despite the planned slowdown, Dean said they expect to continue with their LMP2 and LMP3 programs.
“We’ve invested now,” he said. “We’ve got the kit and the equipment, so we’ll be in it for a while.
“We’ll sit back and watch with interest how Hypercar develops, or not.”
Beaumesnil: No Proposal for Further Joker Updates
There are no current plans to allow for an additional round of ‘joker’ updates to LMP2 constructors Dallara, Ligier and Multimatic, according to Beaumesnil, despite the apparent advantage the Oreca 07 Gibson still has.
Several teams, including United Autosports and Panis-Barthez Competition, have made a mid-season switch to Oreca machinery, with only a handful of Dallara and Ligiers still competing globally.
“This has not been proposed,””Beaumesnil said of an additional joker. “There was no decision in that direction. It’s what was discussed and agreed between the teams. They don’t want us to change the chassis.”
All three constructors utilized the one-time-allowance in 2018 in an effort to close the performance gap to the Oreca.
Dean, meanwhile, feels it would be wrong for the ACO to allow an additional joker at this time, considering the majority of the teams that have already made the move to Orecas.
“If they make an adjustment, where does that leave us?” he said. “I suppose it means they can sell those cars, but I’d be pretty upset if I was Ligier because we’re not going to make the move back now.
“So they’ve lost out big time.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report