Onroak Automotive today unveiled the latest product to emerge from the company’s workshops in Magny Cours in the svelte and shapely form of the Ligier JS P3 LMP3 coupé.
The project was first mooted in late 2014, and further updates came from Jacques Nicolet in February this year, when the intention to put the JS P3 into production was confirmed. Just four months later, and that promise has been made good with the completion of the first chassis.
Guy Ligier himself was on hand to assist Jacques Nicolet in drawing the black drapes clear of the unpainted carbon-fibre coupé. Now in his 85th year, the former French rugby international and founder of the team and manufacturer that bears his name was looking a little frail but immensely proud as he revealed the latest car to bear his name.
It was immediately evident that the JS P3 draws heavily upon Onroak’s experience in developing the current LMP2 Ligier chassis, both in design and styling as well as aerodynamics. The cockpit appears larger, and the emphasis within has been on ergonomic efficiency and comfort. There is a sophisticated cooling system that includes air intakes that funnel air directly into a specially adapted Stand 21 helmet design. Safety too is high on the priority listing, and the construction complies with anticipated revisions in LMP1 regulations that will see additional protection for the driver’s head. Features within the cockpit, including an optional three-position pedal box, should mean that the Ligier can accommodate drivers of very diverse proportions.
LMP3 arrived as a new initiative from the ACO last year, and is envisaged as a mid-point stepping stone between GT and full-strength prototype racing. All cars will be powered by an identical Oreca-supplied NISMO-tuned Nissan VK50 five-litre normally aspirated V8, generating around 420 horsepower. This is mated to an XTrac six-speed sequential gearbox, and each engine must achieve 10,000 kilometres between major rebuilds.
The focus, as with much that the ACO does at present, is on restricting budgets and ensuring that motorsport remains affordable. Onroak insists that the Ligier JS P3 will be economical to run and will comfortably meet the ACO’s cost-capping limitations. Standard components will be used wherever possible and the total cost of the car must not exceed 195,000 Euros. The Ligier, in common with other LMP3 chassis, must also run on fairly standard rubber, similar to the tyres currently used in Porsche Cup.
#The Ligier JS P3 is just the second ‘in the flesh’ LMP3 chassis to appear, following the successful introduction of the Ginetta Juno at the Autosport Show in January. Two others wait in the wings, including the proposed Riley-Scott AR-2 and the ex Sébastien Loeb/SORA Racing LAS Motorsport project, now redubbed as just an Addess, both yet to progress beyond the designs-on-paper stage.
Onroak also produces the Morgan LMP2 chassis, the Ligier JS P2 and Ligier JS 53 Evo 2 (CN category) racecars. The first Ligier JS P3 chassis is expected to be delivered to Graff Racing in September following extensive track development to be carried out by Nissan works driver Olivier Pla and, if all goes to plan, the car will debut in the final round of this season’s European Le Mans Series at Estoril in October. Representatives from the Morangis-based team (near Paris) were present at the launch to see what will, it is assumed, become their car in a few months’ time.