The FIA and ACO, in conjunction with GTE manufacturers, are working to develop a new method of controlling Balance of Performance, following a controversial year that saw no fewer than ten BoP changes over the course of the nine-round FIA World Endurance Championship season.
A manufacturers working group meeting following the Shanghai round, understood to originally begin dialogue for changes to take effect in 2018, has been accelerated to take effect for next year.
While details of the changes under discussion are unclear, ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil said that a collective effort is underway to enhance the current process.
“The idea is to define the process together, an evolution of the process,” Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.
“There’s a lot of emotion with BoP. We have to stay calm and quiet with that. I think technical team does an incredible job and they really manage a huge amount of data to make decisions.
“There’s a working group working on the process for next year. No conclusion has been achieved for the moment but they are working on a good direction.
“We’ll see in a few days and weeks on what’s coming out from there. But I’m really confident we’ll have a much more quieter season next year.”
While three of the four GTE-Pro manufacturers claimed class victories this season, a number of races saw clear advantages for particular cars at certain tracks.
Aston Martin dominated the Mexico City and Circuit of The Americas rounds, all while getting hit with air restrictor reductions, while Ford had convincing 1-2 runs in Fuji and Shanghai, before having been given a 20kg weight increase and 4 percent power reduction for the season finale in Bahrain, where it then struggled.
The turbocharged Fords and Ferrari 488 GTEs, meanwhile, were the center of attention at Le Mans, for its clear performance advantage, despite an unprecedented post-qualifying BoP change.
Beaumesnil, however, argues that the difference between all four manufacturers over the course of the season had never been closer.
“In all of the years we’ve used BoP, it has never been so close and we’ve never had so many complaints. That’s the ironic conclusion of that,” he said.
“We understand that the level is rising and the more manufacturers become involved, the more they want to defend their positions and are stronger in their requests.”
Marco Ujhasi, Head of Porsche GT Works Sport, supports the current discussions and is optimistic of coming to a reasonable solution to better control BoP.
Porsche was the only full-season GTE-Pro manufacturer not to claim a class win this year.
“The good thing is that all manufacturers are on the same page that we need to solve that point,” Ujhasi told Sportscar365. “There are some ideas how to proceed but it’s still an ongoing discussion.”
It’s unclear if a variable BoP system, similar to what SRO Motorsports Group has pioneered for GT3 racing, could be under consideration.
The SRO’s system utilizes four different categories of BoP, grouped based on circuit layouts and characteristics.
It can be argued the FIA and ACO already has a two-category BoP system, with a dedicated BoP for the 24 Hours of Le Mans having been developed in recent years.
Ujhasi, meanwhile, said eliminating BoP altogether is not a topic.
“GT racing is impossible without a BoP. That’s clear,” he said. “You want to compete with different concepts: front and mid-engine… and so many different things you have to bear in mind.
“It’s only doable with BoP. Otherwise you would have to write a 100 percent technical regulations but then you’re under prototype [regulations].”
While it’s understood GTE manufacturers have generally been more receptive of IMSA’s BoP measures, and particularly its communication process, the ACO’s Beaumesnil suggested that a common BoP between the two series would not work.
“We share all the information and then we each make our own decisions,” he said. “Every championship has their own specificities, circuits, etc.
“We made a simple exercise. In Le Mans, we took the values of the IMSA BoP and we applied it to Le Mans. There would have been much bigger gaps if we had not used ours.”
Beaumesnil said they hope to finalize their revised process by January or February. Any change would be approved directly by the FIA Endurance Committee and would not have to go before the World Motor Sport Council.
“In previous years we kept a minimum two races [before a BoP change],” he said. “What we plan for next year is probably quite different from the process.”