The 2015 ELMS will start in one month, with the official test session which will take place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France on March 23rd and 24th. In the meantime, let’s have a look at some details of the 2015 ELMS regulations.
To start with, the 2015 ELMS will include four different categories.
The European Le Mans Series is a European series of endurance races reserved for cars such as “Le Mans Prototypes” and “Le Mans Grand Touring” plus “Grand Touring Challenge”. More than three cars must be entered for the whole season in each category.
· LMP2: The category below the top LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, LMP2 is a key part of the “Endurance” family which allows teams, as well as drivers, to gradually progress to the highest level. The “Le Mans Prototype 2” (LMP2) class is reserved exclusively for privateer teams independent of constructors and/or engine suppliers.
LMP2 cars have similar characteristics to LMP1 (carbon monocoque chassis) while respecting strict cost criteria: price-capped chassis at €370,000. For closed cars the price must not exceed €450,000. The price of engines is capped at €80,350. In 2015, three different engines (Nissan, Honda, Judd) and many chassis (ORECA, Morgan, Zytek/Gibson, BR, Ligier among others) are available, allowing customers an infinite number of possible combinations!
Number Colour: BLUE
· LMGTE : Grand Touring cars are part of the tradition of endurance racing. To be homologated, a GTE (E for Endurance) must be based around a production road car of which 100 examples have been built (25 for a “small manufacturer”, 300 for a carbon chassis). The “race” version must retain the shape of the road-going model from which it is derived. The engine must retain its original location, orientation, and its original position. However, it may be re-positioned for cars of which a minimum number of 2500 examples are produced in a consecutive 12-month period.
As opposed to the category with the suffix “Pro” (entered in the FIA WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans), “Am” designates the GTE class reserved for amateur drivers and these are the cars that are eligible for LMGTE class in the ELMS.
Technically, the cars in the GTE Am class correspond to the same regulations as the GTE Pros, but they must be at least one year old. Thus, they cannot benefit from the latest developments.
Number Colour: ORANGE
· GTC “Grand Touring Challenge”. The true launch pad for competitors wanting to concentrate on endurance racing in GT cars, the Grand Touring Challenge class has welcomed GT3 cars homologated by the FIA since 2013.
The GTC class is primarily for amateur drivers, with vehicles close to production models. It is up to each manufacturer to develop its car and provide a precise description in an FIA homologation document. The car cannot be developed by the manufacturer during the season and teams are limited in what modifications can be made to the specification. During events the scrutineers must ensure that the car is in line with its homologation papers and any adjustments decided upon following tests carried out by the FIA.
Number Colour: BLACK
· LMP3: In order to strengthen the pyramid of endurance racing which was introduced in 1999 by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the ACO has for 2015 launched a new category of junior sports-prototype for endurance racing, LMP3.
In the pyramid of “Le Mans Prototypes,” LMP3 becomes the first step on the ladder before moving up to the LMP2 and LMP1 classes (the latter in the FIA WEC and 24 Hours of Le Mans).
The thinking behind this car is that there should be fewest number of constraints possible, whether those are budgetary, technical, driving or operation. The sale price of the new car, complete, must not exceed €195,000.
The LMP3 is a closed car. The chassis and body of LMP3 can be built by any manufacturer and they are very close to those of the current LMP2 (closed cockpit, carbon chassis). Powered by a normally aspirated 420 bhp Nissan powerplant, unique to and identical for all chassis, the engines are marketed by the ORECA company which also provides specific assistance to teams.
Number Colour: PURPLE