LMP2: TOO TOUGH TO CALL
Could an LMP2 car finish on
the overall Le Mans podium?
The paucity of factory LMP1
entries – just five – suggests this
might be the year that a team
from the secondary prototype
division pulls off a giant-killing
act, but it would still take some
Thus far, no LMP2 car has
finished higher than fifth at
Le Mans. Strakka did it in 2010
with its HPD ARX-01c in a year
when there were 18 LMP1s
in the field. The majority hit
problems, most pertinently the
four Peugeots. None saw the
finish, three going out with an
identical engine problem.
A similar scenario in 2017
could give a P2 the scent of a
podium in a year when there’s
only a solo privateer P1 from
the ByKolles squad. Is it likely?
Probably not. Peugeot’s engine
problems were caused by a late
switch from steel to titanium
connecting rods, but those kind
of “come back to haunt you”
scenarios are all too rare.
Perhaps more likely is the
intensity of the lead battle
resulting in incidents out on
the track. Still, a P2 on the
podium remains a long shot.
“Even if the factories lose
a car each, they’ll still have
enough between them to lock
out the podium,” says Rebellion
P2 boss Bart Hayden. “What’s
more, they are still going to be
fast enough to have a 20- or
30-minute delay and make it
back over the 24 hours.”
Highest-finishing LMP2 from the
2016 Le Mans field (ABOVE) came
in fifth. With P1 numbers down,
could it be even higher in 2017?
COULD P2 PUNCH
ABOVE ITS WEIGHT?
DC Racing cars. “There’s also more scope
to make up time lost by your silver.”
And what about reliability? New cars and
a new engine raise the question, but it’s not
been a factor in the WEC or in IMSA so far.
Gibson’s V8 has already completed a
24-hour race when the visitflorida.com Riley
Mk30 finished third behind two Cadillac DPi
cars in the Rolex 24, but its effects on the
rest of the car could be a factor at Le Mans.
The flat-plane crank design is, says
Hayden, “a bit of a bone shaker” and Riley
Technologies boss Bill Riley reveals that
“every nut and bolt on the car was working
its way loose” on the Spirit of Daytona-run
visitflorida.com car after the Rolex 24.
Still, the smart money appears to be on
the new P2s going the distance at Le Mans.
After that, making predictions is way
tougher in this ultra-competitive class.
(MAIN) The 10-car, full-season WEC
joining the show for Le Mans, plus
low-downforce aero kits racing there for
the first time, the package to have is
anybody’s guess until they hit the track.
up the results that would give them a gold
rating. American Gustavo Menezes, who
made the switch from Euro Formula 3, was
a key factor in Signatech’s 2016 Le Mans
win as the silver in its lead entry.
The new Menezes might just be
19-year-old Frenchman Thomas Laurent,
a former world karting champion who’s
switched to cars in the endurance ranks.
He’s the silver in the lead Jackie Chan DC
Racing ORECA that took P2 honors in the
WEC opener at Silverstone in April.
But the importance of what’s come to
be known as a “fake silver” is probably less
at Le Mans than in six-hour WEC races.
“The percentage of the race that the
silver has to spend in the car is actually
less at Le Mans, but it is an easier track on
which to perform,” says Sam Hignett, boss
of Jota Sport, which runs the Jackie Chan
Signatech Alpine won a
hard-fought P2 class at the
2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.
With 25 cars in the field, all
indications are that it will
get even tougher in 2017.
CAN THE CHAMPS
DO IT AGAIN?