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Vasselon: “Positive Momentum” for GT-Styled LMP1 Proposal

Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon in favor of DPi-like prototypes for new-generation LMP1 regulations…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon says there’s “positive momentum” for a GT-styled prototype concept that could form the basis for the next wave of LMP1 regulations.

The FIA and ACO are due to release guidelines for the proposed 2020/21 rules next month, with a recent proposal for production-car inspired LMP1 cars appearing to be the favored option among manufacturers, including Toyota.

The Japanese manufacturer has been among the half-dozen automakers that have been involved in recent meetings, included representatives from McLaren and Ford.

“Clearly the direction towards a GT-looking car is something we feel is positive,” Vasselon said. “It seems like it’s giving momentum to the new category.

“It’s true that standard LMP1 cars, not visually identified, there were not many manufacturers interested.

“When you start talking about sports car-looking prototypes, then it seems there’s a lot more interest. So there is positive momentum at the moment.”

The concept, described as slightly more elaborate than IMSA’s current DPi model, could see manufacturers adopt styling cues from a specific road car or a generic design that encompassing the entire brand.

It’s understood the cars, however, would still remain prototypes at heart, likely around a monocoque that’s similar to the current LMP1 and LMP2 standards.

“It should be up to the manufacturer, what the manufacturer wants to do [with styling],” Vasselon said. “If a manufacturer wants to have a car looking like a McLaren P1, fine. It’s just something possible and open.”

Vasselon indicated there’s “already a few” guidelines in place, but would not go into any specific detail, due to confidentiality agreements.

The FIA and ACO have stated that a reduction in current LMP1 budgets while maintaining the technological innovation are the among the targets, along with closing the performance gap between factory and privateer teams. 

“It’s true that [the GT-inspired LMP1 concept] is one of the directions and we are putting in place some other guidelines,” Vasselon said.

“This is what we can expect to have in the coming months. Then I think we will have in front of us, roughly six months, to really draft the regulation book.”

While initial guidelines are expected to be released during the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on Dec. 6, it’s understood the FIA is leaving the door open to not firm up the full details until March.

Two or More Manufacturers Deemed a Success

Vasselon said he would view the new regulations to be a success should at least two manufacturers commit from the start.

“At the moment it looks like it can be more than two,” he said. “It’s easy to say that [manufacturers] are interested. But clearly there’s more momentum now than one month ago.”

Toyota, or any other manufacturer has yet to formally commit to 2020/21, which Vasselon said could be a stumbling block once the regulations-making process takes the next step.

“The problem is who will be in the Technical Working Group,” he said. Normally for the TWG, it’s for people entering.

“At the moment, the risk we have is that we have many people around the table, many opinion, but are these guys going to be there?”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. jason

    November 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Very pleased with this concept. Remember the Porsche GT1, Panoz GTR1, Mercedes CLK, McLaren GTR, even the Lister Storm? Yeah great times. We just to make sure it does not evolve into something like the Toyota GT ONE.

    • Gand Am Fan

      November 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I hope the new prototypes look more like the Porsche-Fabcar and the Picchio. No one did a better job of having styling cues on a prototype than Grand Am. The headlight decals looked a lot like the production parts and the Lexus-Riley with the decal grill was good looking. The Riley with the Pontiac grill was super good looking too. The Chase DP also seemed to be a good direction to go.

      • jason

        November 21, 2017 at 11:37 am

        Your joking I bet on all fronts. Seriously though the Corvette DP worked out pretty darn good in the looks department. Especially the C7 version. I do miss that car. Only Daytona Prototype I ever liked.

        • Grand Am Fan

          November 21, 2017 at 3:06 pm

          I am not joking. The WEC could use some prototypes with manufacturer styling cues or decals. Most of all, they need banging action.

          • Av

            November 21, 2017 at 8:06 pm

            I have never seen uglier racing cars than the grand am protos. Ufff, were they ugly and boring, and ugly, and wait… those cars were ugly.

  2. Esa Illoinen

    November 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

    The manufacturers could style an LMP1 to have some kind of family identity if they wanted to. The reason they don’t is that it will make the car slower. So if such contraptions have to be accommodated, it can only mean there must be some kind of aero BoP for them. Utterly rubbish!

    • Please pay attention people, NOTHING in LMP1 is open

      November 21, 2017 at 9:09 am

      That’s mostly because no one can understand the ability of the livery to get the desired effect. It does NOT have to be bodywork or “NASCAR-like” stickers to get the design language across.

      And if you think there isn’t aero BOP, well you really aren’t paying attention at all.

      • GR88

        November 21, 2017 at 10:59 am

        The intention isn’t to add minor styling cues, but give free design reign above the axleline. It’s true to say cars will need to be aero balanced, but they’ll look much more inline with something like Super GT than DPI.

        Incidentally, GT500 cars lap at LMP1 privateer speeds,so the cars will not necessarily be slower than today.

  3. jake

    November 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Take any gt3 car and allow the guts (powertrain, suspension electronics) to be modified as necessary and then bolt on as much aero as you want. It would bring in all manufactures/privateers and keep costs low plus allow for some creativity. I understand you could easily see hybrid powetrains and motorized aero and suspension. Not to mention electronic assist functionality pricing out some teams. But on the plus side those outpriced teams could still race what they could afford and would require them to get creative. I just am tired of the cookie cutter prototypes that have to fit inside a so many rules. That is what I think pushed away involvement and creativity.

  4. Davy

    November 21, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Yes please. Super GT inspired prototypes with stronger engines would be incredible!

  5. Dan

    November 21, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Why can’t prototypes be prototypes and GT cars be GT cars? If you want the car to be recognizable to the casual observer build a gt, if you want a car that’s as fast and corners as well as possible, get a prototype and incorporate the brand name in the livery, I always new the R18 was an Audi, same went for the TS050, and 919.

    • Mark - Toronto

      November 21, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Completely agree! We have OEM styled cars today, that’s a GT. I’m all for allowing styling ‘cues’, but a prototype should remain overall a prototype. Now what defines that is partly down to taste. Obviously the old LMGTP cars like the CLK were prototypes. But for my taste they were getting too close to a silhouette scenario. Others will disagree, and that’s their opinion. I know they were not production based by any stretch – but I grew up in the Group C/GTP era. Prototypes looked cool because they were like nothing else. It’s not hard to identify a manufacturer if it’s stenciled all over the engine cover.

      I was originally concerned about the DPi proposal, but I think IMSA got it just right. I suppose as long as there is a base tub, packaging will only let you go so far with aero before it compromises things. I’ll remain cautiously optimistic if this comes to pass. For me the most seductively ‘styled’ cars were full on prototypes looking like nothing else….but if OEMs are required and no one wants to come and play…it’s all for nothing.

      I wonder where privateers fall into this. Would there remain a generic offering like the current situation, or would OEMs be mandated to provide customer cars. I get worried when the survival of a category is dependent on just a few manufacturer teams.

    • Tyler Sanders

      November 21, 2017 at 11:26 am

      I completely agree. I like Prototypes to look like prototypes and GT cars to look like GT cars.

    • Davy

      November 21, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Because manufacturers don’t want to pay hundreds of millions for a single race and have the cars be hideous beasts that look nothing like their road cars.

    • Parker

      November 22, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Nailed it.

  6. Kevin

    November 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Gee I wonder where the inspiration came from for this idea??? 🤔

    • TF110

      November 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      It came from the 90’s. I know you are going to say DPI or IMSA, but no.

      Look at the Mercedes CLR. That’s a perfectly fine example of what the new lmps should be like.

      • Max

        November 21, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        Grand Am’s inspiration was Group C and GTP, so I think some credit is actually due there. It’s a continuation of a generally good idea so long as the budgets don’t kill it again. I think the number one thing they need to do is not throw the Privateers under the bus.

    • Steven

      November 21, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      Acura and Honda put a boomerang and a bra on the front of the spec LMP2 chassis and called it their own, hardly innovative or inspirational. Cadillac put their headlight style on their Dallara and called it their own. Very inspiring.

      Mazda was the only one that took styling cues and made it their own.

  7. Anonymous

    November 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    It would really help DPi’s corner if the manufacturers got more creative with their designs! Mazda were the only one’s to properly embrace the DPi concept. I don’t mind if Prototypes carry some familial resemblance to their manufacturer, but I don’t want it to look like the old GT1 Cars of the late 90’s! Those cars were awesome no denying it, but they were of their time, when supercar technology was more impressive than racing technology. If Ford wanted to build an LMP1 for 2020 I wouldn’t mind if it looked like a Ford GT at the front, but looked like a Porsche 919 prototype at the back, not something that looks like a Ford GT with too many wings and fins, that would be a return to the old GT1 rules in my opinion.

  8. Roh

    November 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Lol the cheapo Daytona turds look nothing like sports cars. They’re less cool P2 cars, most except the Nissan with awful looking bodies.
    Bringing back GT1 was hugely popular on the WEC survey and has nothing to do with the amateur teams in ASSCAR Jr. Glad FIA is actually listening.

    • aco_gomer

      November 21, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Grand-Am > WEC

  9. John

    November 21, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    While I can appreciate a good looking car, the important thing to me, and being overlooked by many, is the aim to keep the class a true prototype, with a certain level of technology.

    That’s the true spirit of Le Mans, not production silhouettes or other superficial elements.

    Regardless, whatever the resulting formula is, it will likely have only a one- or two-cycle lifespan anyway before the next period of upheaval.

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