FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu says the series is weighing up options for how LMP2 might look next season in terms of Bronze driver involvement.
While the four current Bronze-rated drivers make up half of the full-season LMP2 grid, it’s understood that some are evaluating switches to other programs for 2021.
Support grew earlier this season for a Bronze driver mandate in the class to replace the current structure requiring each lineup to have either a Bronze or a Silver-rated member.
A Bronze driver mandate would enable all ‘gentleman’ drivers to contend for class wins, as is the case in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship LMP2 category.
Neveu told Sportscar365 that there is currently a “prominent dialogue” between the WEC and its LMP2 competitors about possible approaches for the class next year, as the series aims to secure a healthy car count amid the global health crisis and financial downturn.
“You need to find 100 percent a good solution for everybody, because the approach is a little bit different depending on the LMP2 team,” he said.
“In LMP2 the position of the gentleman drivers is crucial because they bring a lot of budget. We have to take some precaution for that, but there is no decision at this moment.
“There is a prominent dialogue and a meeting was organized [at Spa] between the LMP2 teams and the sporting department to see what is best: a mandatory Bronze, different balances regarding the drivers, or running time.
“In any case, we cannot change the rules in the middle of the season. But this is at the top of the table to be discussed with the teams. If we have to introduce a new rule, this should happen for the next season.”
When asked if the WEC would consider banning Bronze-rated drivers to leave LMP2 as a Silver, Gold and Platinum-only class, Neveu suggested this is not the current plan.
“I don’t think so, but let’s see what different solutions [there are],” he said. “We have to open all the doors and see which is the best [option].
“As organizers, we have to be careful that we keep the stage open and sustainable.
“At the same time, we have to be careful about the sensitivity of the market. If you say this category is an access category for gentleman drivers, you have to make sure there is a position for them.
“And they don’t want to arrive just to spend 40 minutes in the car during the weekend and to not win. We have to make sure that you have to find a good compromise, and make sure that if the spirit is to keep a seat for gentleman drivers, you have to find a good solution.
“This is what we are discussing now, and I’m sure we will find one.”
Van Eerd Wants Clarity to Decide on 2021 Plans
Racing Team Nederland’s Bronze-rated driver Frits van Eerd says that he’s hoping for clarity on WEC Bronze driver allowances to decide on what his program will be next year.
The Dutchman, who has voiced support for a Bronze driver mandate, has long been eyeing an entry into the IMSA LMP2 class but explained that uncertainty over travel and schedules has prevented him from committing to the North American series so far.
“If the WEC said that LMP2 is not for Bronze drivers anymore, I would fully understand that,” van Eerd told Sportscar365.
“But if they say that it is, then make it competitive. At least make a change to make sure Bronze drivers might be competitive to Silvers.
“I understand that if you own a team with no Bronze because you don’t want to have one, and it’s mandatory, then where do you get a Bronze from?
“I hope the WEC can make a decision. That would really help us, because now we’re stuck in the middle and we don’t know what to do.
“If they say that Bronze drivers are mandatory for the WEC and we do six races for the season in one calendar year, that would really have my interest.
“We need to make a [program] decision by early October. Because if we go to the United States, we need to find a place, find some guys over there and arrange everything.”