DSC sat down with the ACO’s technical director Vincent Beaumesnil during today’s 6 Hours of Fuji, to discuss the philosophy behind the confirmed ‘Joker’ upgrades permitted for the Ligier, Dallara and Riley LMP2 chassis for next season, and find out more details about the process.
Vincent, can you explain in your own words, the reasoning behind these upgrades, which we will see for the ‘Super Season’ to the LMP2 cars?
“The philosophy of what we do is important to understand. We have built this regulation set in order to provide a platform for the teams and the drivers. The stars of LMP2 are the teams and drivers, and not the car manufacturers. If you want to promote a car company, you go into LMP1.
“So we selected private manufacturers like Dallara, ORECA, to provide cars to the customers, we selected four to give them a good share of the market and at a competitive price to the teams.
“The cars were debuted at the same time, which is different to before, where it was in the rules, but there were new cars coming at different times, so there was always a new car coming and it made teams change cars more often. We want to protect the budgets of the teams.
“But the danger is that if one car is more competitive than the others, then the other three are stuck for four years. We needed to prevent that and make sure we keep a good balance to ensure everyone survives.
“ORECA has done a very good job, it’s a good car. We don’t want to penalise that, so in the rules the LMP2 manufacturers can ask for a performance evolution, if it is demonstrated that there is a performance deficit. Dallara, Ligier, Riley and Multimatic made the request, ORECA didn’t because they have the best chassis.
“We did an analysis to get a clear vision on who was competitive and who was not. We will grant these three manufacturers specific changes, they can’t develop the car outside of what we allow. We will be very strict and strong on this as we don’t want ORECA to be penalised for having the best car at the beginning.
“At the moment where we are now is that the manufacturers know the performance targets for their evolutions, so basically the Riley has more possibilities as it was further behind, they can do work on the chassis and aerodynamics. Where as Ligier and Dallara can only work on their aerodynamics for Sprint and Le Mans kit.
“Then they have to provide technical elements and tell us what they will change and how it will affect it. We will then control it in the wind tunnel.”
Are you looking to just the aerodynamic numbers, or the dynamics of the car as it shifts and moves?
“We have to understand clearly what the game is.”
So you’re asking to see their simulation data too?
“I cannot comment as it’s still being discussed. But yes for sure we want to have the real simulation impact.”
How much will these updates cost for teams, or will they be given to the teams for free to prevent them having to find more budget?
“They are free of charge for the teams. This is a good way to restrict the evolutions, the teams won’t pay for these.”
Can you go into any more details on the scope of changes that can be made to the Riley’s chassis?
“I can’t give any details now as it’s under discussion between the technical teams.”
And the Dallara, it was a late decision to give it permission to change its Sprint kit as well as its Le Mans kit. Why was that?
“The reason basically was that there was some new important elements regarding the performance analysis that came on top of our preliminary analysis. I can’t give you any details on what they will do with the car.
“This will be the last Joker, there can only be one upgrade in the lifetime of the car.”
Can you give us any more details into the process at the wind tunnel test at Wind Shear? How will it work if the performance levels do exceed the ORECA, what will you do to prevent that from happening?
“If it doesn’t comply with what we’ve asked then we need to make another technical solution. I don’t have the wind tunnel schedule now. To do testing you need a wind tunnel available, it’s when you have a slot that you can do it.
“We will test all of them in the same tunnel so we are consistent.”
What has the reaction from ORECA been to this? As they may argue that they are being penalised in a way? As their sales may be affected by other chassis’ upgrades?
“What can I say? What do you think? Ask them, I can’t comment on behalf of others. I think if everybody is unhappy, there’s quite a good balance! The balance is not so bad.”
How will these joker upgrades affect the chassis used for DPis in IMSA?
“You must ask IMSA. We manage P2, they manage DPi.”
So you’re not collaborating with IMSA on this?
“We are collaborating every day with IMSA. We will share the wind tunnel time with IMSA, we work like that.”
With the market place as it is in LMP2 now, is there any scope for another chassis manufacturer to come into LMP2 in this current cycle, similar to what happened in LMP3?
“There’s no change.”
Will other manufacturers have to wait until the end of the cycle for you to re-open it then?
“At the end of the cycle, we haven’t discussed what we will do. We are only on the first year. We need to take the experience of this year and next year. Then we will discuss the next step, whether it will be a new selection or if it will stay the same.”