RAMPING UP THE HYBRID TECH
The diversity that has characterized prototype
racing at Le Mans over the decades will be
restricted when a new LMP2 category comes
into force in 2017. Except, that is, in North
America where manufacturers competing in
the renamed IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar
Championship will be allowed freedoms
befitting of a formula that will be the basis
of the top Prototype class in the series.
Only four constructors have been granted
licenses to produce P2 chassis for the new
rules cycle, which covers the 2017-’ 20
seasons. The rule makers made this decision
to ensure that there was a proper business
case for the constructors, and that no one
could steal a march by busting the price cap
that has been at the core of the category
since 2011 by selling cars at a loss.
It was a controversial move that comes
in parallel with the introduction of a spec
engine across the WEC and the Le Mans
Series in Europe and Asia. P2 in those
championships is a secondary class aimed
at privateers, but in the North American
AMERICA: STILL P2’S LAND OF THE FREE
have to be invoked to balance these
machines with the true LMP2 cars racing in
the series. Manufacturers running in IMSA
will be able to enter the Le Mans 24 Hours
and run their own engines, but they will have
to run the original bodywork. Balancing the
cars at a one-off event at a track like no
other would be too problematical otherwise,
the rule makers have decided.
The four constructors chosen to build
LMP2 cars are ORECA, Onroak Automotive
(Ligier), Dallara and Riley Technologies/
Multimatic. British engine specialist Gibson
Technology, formerly Zytek Engineering, has
won the tender to supply the spec engine
and is working on a naturally-aspirated V8
that isn’t expected to include direct-injection.
Of the current breed of P2s, only the
ORECA 05 coupe introduced this season
can be updated to the new rules, courtesy
of an introduction of LMP1 monocoque
safety specs. The French constructor
plans to make a kit available to convert
existing 05s to the new rules.
Spec engine rules will be relaxed for North America, but P2 still loses some of its diversity in 2017.
arena it was important that manufacturers
be allowed to run their own engines and to
give the cars their own look.
Modified LMP2 machinery will run in a
sub-class known as Daytona Prototype
International. And that means the IMSA
Balance of Performance mechanism will
Onroak Automotive, builder
of the Ligier JS P2 raced by
half of the full-season P2
entries in the 2015 WEC
(MAIN, G-Drive Racing) is
one of four constructors to
receive a 2017 license.
Gibson Technology, formerly Zytek, builds
the 015S P2 car campaigned by Strakka
Racing in the WEC, but will only supply
spec engines for P2’s 2017 revamp.