LMP1

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Perrinn confirms two orders of LMP1 chassis for 2018 WEC, Le Mans

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British motorsport engineering company Perrinn has confirmed the receipt of two orders of its LMP1 chassis for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Following the withdrawal of Audi and Rebellion Racing’s decision to step down to LMP2 for 2017, this year’s LMP1 class in the WEC features just five cars, with boosting numbers a key aim for the series’ leadership at the ACO and FIA.

Ginetta has already announced plans for a customer LMP1 chassis for 2018, while Russian outfit SMP Racing is also working on a project with BR Engineering and Dallara.

Perrinn has joined the fray by announcing on Thursday that it has received two chassis orders for 2018, as well as releasing renders of its design.

“With the design work already completed alongside preliminary digital and crash test simulations, the as yet unnamed car is expected to be revealed in late November before testing starts in December,” the statement reads.

“With the program already at such an advanced stage, Perrinn has confirmed it is capable of supplying further cars for the 2018 season.

“The first two cars sold will be run by a European race team with its identity and engine details to be released shortly.”

“Increased support and stability from the FIA and ACO, coupled with programs from other manufacturers has meant we’ve had a lot of discussions with teams seeking more freedom than the new LMP2 category,” designer Nicholas Perrinn added.

“LMP1 offers a route to progress from an engineering and pace point of view. In just a few short months, the program has progressed very quickly to the point where we’ll have two cars plus enough spares to build another car within six months.

“We have ensured we have capacity to do more should some of our other discussions develop.”

Lucas di Grassi ‘likely’ to make Le Mans, WEC appearances in 2017

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Lucas di Grassi says that he is “likely” to race in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans despite Audi’s withdrawal from the FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of 2016.

Di Grassi previously balanced duties between Audi’s LMP1 team and with its affiliated ABT Schaeffler operation in Formula E, with the latter now becoming his priority for 2017.

A number of drivers involved in both WEC and Formula E face dilemmas over which to prioritize later in the year.

Most notably, the New York Formula E double-header clashes with WEC’s visit to the Nürburgring, ruling out a number of drivers from the electric event including Sebastien Buemi, Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird.

Di Grassi believes it will be hard for Formula E to avoid clashing with other series as it expands, and thinks that drivers will need to fully commit to the championship down the line.

“With Formula E expanding, I think it will be hard not to have clashes in the future. I hope there are no clashes,” di Grassi told NBC Sports.

“For me with Audi, they told me: ‘The priority is Formula E. If you want to do one or two other races, you can.’ They even told me if you want to do WEC, you can, but the priority is Formula E. You have to miss the WEC.

“It’s a very clear, straightforward view for us, for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. For the team the priority is Formula E. That I understand and I agree that Formula E is getting to a level where it is getting very complicated, very detail oriented, so you need to focus on that.”

When asked if he would be racing at Le Mans and making other WEC appearances, di Grassi said it was “likely”.

“My interest is in the Pro categories. Either LMP1 or GTE Pro,” di Grassi added.

“I think GTE is the future. P1, you have very little cars, only two manufacturers. For GTE the tendency is to grow. GTE is very interesting in a career point of view.

“But still to be discussed if Audi would release me or not to do it.

“But normally Audi understand quite well if I want to do another race in which they don’t compete.”

Ginetta confirms new LMP1 chassis for 2018

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The LMP1 privateer ranks are set to get a boost if customers step up to Ginetta’s new LMP1 chassis offering. The LMP1 rendering released today follows the success of the manufacturer’s LMP3 and G57 models, and will look to attract new entrants into the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Ginetta said it is in advanced talks with engine supplier MECACHROME as well as gearbox manufacturers Xtrac for the drive train.  The car will be around 60kg lighter than a P2 and have up to 200BHP more. The manufacturer plans to build ten chassis to support three, two-car teams run by customers. Significant interest has already been expressed from both new and existing customers, including G57 customers PRT Racing and ARC Bratislava for their 2018 WEC campaigns.

Personnel-wise, Ginetta have perhaps scored a coup with the hirings of Adrian Reynard, who will head the aero development and Paolo Catone, who previously designed the Le Mans-winning Peugeot 908. The manufacturer also announced an as-yet-unnamed Head of Aerodynamics who has past LMP1-H experience.

“I’m hugely thankful to the ACO for the opportunity to run at the front and challenge for overall podiums,” said Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson. “The Ginetta design team’s ability has already been proven by the class dominating Ginetta LMP3 and G57. With Adrian and Paolo on board, the performance of the Ginetta LMP1 is going to be amazing. We are now offering a genuine ladder for our customers all the way from first race to Le Mans which is incredibly exciting for me.”

“This certainly appeals to my competitive nature,” Reynard added. “Aerodynamics, driveability and fuel efficiency dominate race car performance in this category. With the highly talented team of experienced engineers that Ginetta has available, this LMP1 contender will be designed and developed to challenge at the highest level. Lawrence has a strong desire to create the very best LMP1 car available for the privateer and he has the commitment to deliver a production run of these.”

Andre Lotterer makes Porsche LMP1 test debut

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The lone Audi Sport LMP1 driver who has found a full-time ride in next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, Andre Lotterer, has made his debut aboard his new car with his new team this week.

Lotterer joined several others of his Porsche Team drivers at a test at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain. Porsche LMP1 head Fritz Ensinger officially welcomed Lotterer to the team after the images were revealed.

He’ll be part of a new-look lineup in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid next year, with reigning World Champion Neel Jani and Porsche factory ace Nick Tandy, who’s now a full-time LMP1 driver after stepping up from the Porsche GT program. Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, who replaces the retired Mark Webber, are in the No. 2 Porsche.

The three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and 2012 FIA WEC World Champion shifts to Porsche for the 2017 campaign, following Audi’s withdrawal from the championship announced late last year. He has competed in every FIA WEC race since the series’ inception at 2012 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, one of only a handful of drivers to do so.

The remainder of Audi’s six factory drivers are yet to sort their FIA WEC plans. Loic Duval and Audi GT ace Rene Rast will join the manufacturer’s DTM program. Lucas di Grassi is set to focus on FIA Formula E with the Audi ABT Schaeffler squad, while Oliver Jarvis, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer’s full 2017 programs remain to be determined.

Fassler and Duval will race at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Fassler in an encore with Corvette Racing while Duval will make a one-off run with Elton Julian’s DragonSpeed team.

WEC LMP1 technical regulations frozen until end of 2019

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Officials have confirmed that the technical regulations for the LMP1 Hybrid class of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be frozen until the end of the 2019 season.

The LMP1-H class is set to drop to just two manufacturers – Porsche and Toyota – and four cars from 2017 following Audi’s shock decision to end its prototype program following the 2016 season.

In June, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) announced a set of tweaks to the LMP1 regulations for 2017 ahead of a planned revision for the following year.

However, in a bid to entice another manufacturer into the top class of the WEC following Audi’s departure, officials have now agreed to freeze the technical regulations until the end of the 2019 season.

“While at the last round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain, a Strategy Committee meeting took place between representatives of the two LMP1 Hybrid manufacturers, Porsche and Toyota, the President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, Pierre Fillon, and President of the FIA Endurance Commission, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones,” a statement reads.

“Following very constructive discussions, it has been agreed between all parties that the current LMP1 hybrid technical regulations will be maintained until the end of 2019.

“This proposal will complement the other decisions already taken on the same subject, such as limiting the number of team members, the number of aero packages permitted, and the amount of wind tunnel sessions and testing days allowed – thus promoting strong technological competition and innovation in the coming years without an unlimited escalation of expenditure.

“The commitments made by the LMP1 Hybrid manufacturers will be put before the FIA World Council meeting in two weeks for approval.

“The very constructive attitude shown by the different participants in this Strategy Committee has been extremely rewarding and is appreciated, and very much in line with the spirit of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“It promises for a very strong future, and everyone is now looking forward to the epic battles which will take place between the manufacturers in 2017 and beyond.”