New LMP1 Regulations to Be Presented in December, Le Mans Organizer Says
Manufacturers look to resurrect the World Endurance Championship's top category.
Talks of retooling the WEC's top LMP1 class have been swirling since Porsche announced it will be exiting the category after 2017. The high costs and soon-to-be minimal competition have turned some potential participants away from the prototype segment; now, officials are reportedly looking for a way to fix these issues. According to a report from Sportscar365, a new set of regulations is planned to be presented in December in hopes of drawing in fresh entries and lowering expenses.
The FIA and ACO's revised set of regs will be presented to the World Motor Sport Council in December, says ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil. These new rulings may not go into effect until 2020 or 2021, but the decision to equalize hybrid and non-hybrid competitors has been made for next season. This, the WEC supposedly hopes, will draw in participants like McLaren who have expressed interest in joining LMP1 if it gets cheaper in the future.
“We are conscious that we need to agree as soon as possible on good regulations,” he told Sportscar365. “We are in the middle of it. We’ve had some meetings with a lot of manufacturers. There is some interest and very good ideas. We are working on a good plan.
“I’m really confident. We still have the target to propose to the World Council the guidelines of the next rules in December, including the year of introduction, which is not confirmed yet.”
Beaumesnil announced that the FIA would allow for at least a year of leniency if the rules were to change for those who have already invested in LMP1.
“Definitely there will be one year of grandfathering,” he said. “We always do that because people who have invested [in cars] need some time.”
Toyota and McLaren have been in talks with series officials as of late to discuss the future of LMP1. While it looks as if Toyota will be the only manufacturer-backed team in the category for 2018, McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown has hinted at the Woking team's intentions.
“We’re very active in those conversations,” Brown told Sportscar365 this week. “Right now, [the FIA and ACO are doing] due diligence on what everybody wants, so they’re kind of in research mode. But we’re going to stay real close to that.
“If they can come up with a formula that is technically relevant, competitive and commercially viable, then it’s something we would definitely consider.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon also mentioned the company's ongoing talks with series officials. Recent news tells that the Japanese manufacturer has no "absolute deadline" on a decision for its future in LMP1, but it seems as if it is looking to do whatever it can to further the category's legacy.
"It’s up to us as well to contribute to this process. We are actively making proposals in the direction which for us makes sense and not only for us…we are trying to contribute in the most constructive way.”