In a press release today the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) has stated that following discussions with the teams in the ELMS it has decided against mandatory use of the “Le Mans” set-up for the aero kit in the European Le Mans Series this season.
In reality this is not the full picture – there were some properly unhappy teams in the ELMS paddock over this last-minute decision forced upon them even though they had no entry for Le Mans anyhow and would be forced into purchasing aero kits which they did not have, potentially adding hundreds of thousands of euros to their budget for this year; indeed, rumours of Gentlemen Drivers complaining that if they had know of this additional cost they would not have entered this season!
It all stems from the fact that the ACO and FIA’s rule-book for Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) is basically a shambles and the cars are too heavy and will be too slow around the Le Mans circuit and with LMP2 speeds as they are there is a high possibility that one of the sub-class cars could take an overall win, making a mockery of the new ‘premier’ class.
Thus, a matter of days before the first round of the ELMS kicked off, the FIA and ACO adjusted LMP2 regulations yet again (remember, they took power away at the end of last season) to ‘harmonise performance levels’ between the Hypercar and LMP2 classes (read: slow down so as not to embarrass everyone) by further reducing the power of the Gibson engine by 50 kW and making it compulsory for all LMP2 teams to use the “Le Mans” set-up for the aero kit.
Following the outcry and very unhappy paddock last weekend in Barcelona the ACO has now reversed this decision for ELMS. This aero kit will, however, continue to apply for the whole FIA WEC season, due to begin on 1 May at Spa-Francorchamps.