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?”