After eight months’ work and a two-month selection process, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), have chosen the four constructors who will supply chassis for the cars that will compete in the Le Mans Prototypes 2 category in ACO and FIA-governed series and the Prototype class of the IMSA sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar Championship beginning in 2017, when the category’s new regulations come into force.
The four constructors are: Dallara (Italy-United States), Onroak Automotive (France), Oreca (France-United States) and the joint-venture Riley Tech/Multimatic (USA, Canada and the United Kingdom), subject to validation of the regulations by the World Motor Sport Council on 10th July.
The bulk of the 2017 LMP2 regulations were unveiled during the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s press conference on 11th June 2015. The aim of these regulations is to ensure long-term success for this category thanks to a reduction in costs, stability in the regulations and the intention to bring the performance of the cars in the category closer to those of the current LMP1s. They will be applicable in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Asian Le Mans Series (Asian LMS), the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
In ACO and FIA governed series, LMP2 cars will be powered by a single engine manufacturer to be selected this September.
In the TUDOR Championship, Prototypes will be powered by engines from a variety of manufacturers and the chassis will include manufacturer-specific styling elements. Announcements on participating manufacturers will be made as programs are confirmed.
The target horsepower for cars in all series is approximately 600bhp, and an Adjustment of Performance process will be used to ensure competitive balance. The ACO, FIA and IMSA also will select a single electronics supplier for all cars this September.
Although TUDOR Championship Prototype teams will be eligible to use the same engines and chassis they race with in the United States at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in ELMS events there is the stipulation that they must utilize the constructor-specific bodywork as used in all championships outside North America. Bearing this in mind and the fact that an LMNP2 running, say a Corvette powerplant, will most likely be penalised at Le Mans against the european spec engine’d cars, one wonders how this will really be an incentive for US based teams to cross ‘the pond’.
Non-US LMP2 teams will be eligible to race in all TUDOR Championship events using the same chassis and engine configuration they use in their home championship.
Following their selection, the Dallara, Onroak Automotive, Oreca and Riley Tech/Multimatic teams now will join the technical working group jointly managed by the ACO, the FIA and IMSA to define the final details of the regulations. One of the main objectives of this working group is to optimise all of the parameters to ensure the most economically viable set of rules for the teams.
The final set of provisions of the LM P2 regulations will be adopted by the World Motor Sport Council in December of this year, and the timetable will respect the following five stages:
- 1st January 2016: validation of the safety structures/monocoque;
- 1st April 2016: validation of the bodywork and the mechanical components;
- 1st June 2016: validation of the crash test;
- 1st September 2016: presentation of the draft homologation sheet;
- From 1 – 15 December 2016: inspection and final validation of the car;
The cars must be homologated by, and available for use in January 2017 for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the first race at which the new TUDOR Championship Prototype / LMP2 category regulations will be applied.
“The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is proud of the work that’s been done on the future LMP2 category regulations.” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. “Our priority is to supply the teams and drivers entered in this category with the best options and solutions to race in endurance on a long-term basis.”
Scott Atherton, President of the International Motor Sports Association added “The process we followed with our partners at the ACO and the FIA to select these four chassis constructors was unprecedented in its level of professionalism and collaboration among three major governing bodies in international motorsport. It was the most thorough and detailed selection process we’ve ever seen in the sport.”
“Arriving at this decision was not easy, as there were many qualified candidates, but it represents a key landmark as we chart the future of the sport in the United States and abroad. There are many other important stops along the way before we have the honor of debuting the new Prototype at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2017, but this process confirmed a good result and is a major step forward.”
Whatever the fans think, and there has been a lot of pushback in both social and mainstream media, the first step of the limiting process has started meaning 2016 will be the last time we see chassis such as Gibson and Dome in Europe. Perhaps there will be a home for them in the TUDOR series, who knows? Is it a good idea? Only time will tell.