The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) has confirmed its planned changes to the FIA World Endurance Championship technical regulations for the 2017 season, as well as unveiling the new spec engine for LMP2 to be used across series.
Ahead of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, officials from the ACO including president Pierre Fillon and sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil held a press conference to announce the planned changes for 2017.
For the manufacturers racing with hybrids in the LMP1-H class, there will be a reduction in aerodynamic performance for 2017 by increasing the height of the splitter and reducing the size of the rear diffuser.
The ACO and the FIA are keen to increase the popularity and attractiveness of the privateer LMP1 category (LMP1-L) by increasing performance while reducing costs. Currently, just two teams – Rebellion Racing and ByKolles – race in the LMP1 sub-class.
For 2017, the regulations will allow LMP1-L cars to be wider at the front and use bigger rear wings. The minimum weight of the cars has also been reduced to 830 kg, while a single fuel flow metre will be introduced. The torque metre will be removed, as will limits on the number of engines.
The introduction of a Drag Reduction System (DRS) for cars is also being discussed for 2018, having been used effectively in Formula 1 and DTM.
It is hoped that these changes will cut the pace difference between the LMP1-H and LMP1-L cars, which has grown from 2.5 seconds to 7.5 seconds per lap in the past four years.
In LMP2, the ACO announced that it had chosen Gibson to be the sole engine supplier for the class at Le Mans, the FIA WEC, the European Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The normally-aspirated V8 will offer teams more power while being fractionally cheaper than engines currently are. Teams will also benefit from technical support from Gibson.
Looking ahead to the future, plans to improve safety were discussed, with the plan being to introduce a new survival cell to cars and enforce stricter crash tests.
The push for zero-emissions racing was also expanded on, leading to discussions about hydrogen-powered cars racing at Le Mans in the future. Investigations into the possibility of using hydrogen in endurance racing will be carried out over the next year.