A series of decisions have been reached by the ACO/FIA rule-makers on which updates will be permitted to the four current LMP2 chassis for the 2018 season, affecting the WEC, ELMS and IMSA.
Each chassis manufacturer is allowed a single ‘Joker’ upgrade during the four-year homologation period, an issue which arose at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year when the ORECA 07 proved to be far quicker in lap time than the Ligier, Dallara and Riley/Multimatic opposition.
“It was clearly in the regulations, and it was a technical discussion,” FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu told DSC. “I understand that the FIA and ACO received requests from some of the manufacturers regarding performance from this year. So the technical committee have worked hard for the last three months with the data to investigate that point, and their conclusion was clearly that for one of the three manufacturers, they have a large joker to ameliorate the performance of the car. That’s the Riley, it was very far from the others.
“And for the two others, there are some possibilities to adjust the performance from next year in different levels, be it Le Mans or the normal race packages. The gap was not the same, and the idea is not to balance, but give all the cars a similar level of performance in LMP2, as the interest is to have the same level in each car.”
DSC understands that the current position is that the Riley/Multimatic Mk 30 will be permitted to make amendments to the basic car, and to both the regular and Le Mans aero kits – thus effectively permitting the Multimatic outfit to progress with a fully redesigned car.
Onroak meanwhile, will be permitted to amend the regular and Le Mans aero on its JS P217.
And in the Dallara camp, the Italian manufacturer will permitted to amend the Le Mans aero kit only on the P217.
Because of the nature of these updates, no ‘Joker’ has been approved for the ORECA 07, a situation which is unlikely to have impressed Hugues de Chaunac and co.
However, Neveu stressed that no final decisions have been taken regarding the exact details of the ‘Joker’ updates to the LMP2 chassis manufacturers.
“There have been communications with the teams, but they have not made final decisions about that (which chassis can change modify which aero kit). They have to discuss it now in detail, regarding what they can do or not.”
The changes will be designed to allow the chassis manufacturers permitted to make amendments to match, but not exceed, the levels presented by the ORECA. To help enforce this, the results of the upgrades will be verified by tests for each car in the Windshear wind tunnel in North Carolina.
“I don’t know the exact schedule (for the wind tunnel test) but I think it’s by the end of November, this is still in discussion.” Neveu said. “They only just met with the teams yesterday and the day before. They are starting to discuss their conclusions with the data, and now they will make a decision very soon.”
It will be interesting to see how that can be achieved, especially if any of the three chassis in question are tested and exceed the ORECA’s capabilities.
“The idea with this is not to go up and up and up and spend more money,” Neveu said when asked what would happen if any of the upgrades exceeded the performance of the ORECA considerably. “The only point everyone agrees with is that the ORECA is the best performing car, so the other cars should have the chance to perform at that the level.
“They are working to make sure that (allowing the upgrades to exceed the performance level of the ORECA) will not happen. It’s not possible to say that it will be exactly the same level, you will see a difference, but the idea is to make sure that with the data and analysis that they are on a similar level, so they can fight for wins.
“If this happened (an upgrade proving superior in performance terms to the ORECA) it wouldn’t work, the technical guys will only authorise an upgrade that’s limited enough, ensuring that they haven’t taken another step more than the ORECA.”
The process is designed to reset the performance levels across all four permitted chassis, in the FIA WEC, ELMS and in LMP2 form, IMSA too. There are no details yet of what process may be followed if a car that’s presented to the wind tunnel test, exceeds the ORECA’s capabilities. There is a clear intention that there will be no further changes to the chassis beyond these amendments, for the remaining period of their homologation.