There’s a significant change to come for both the Michelin Le Mans Cup and ELMS races at Paul Ricard this weekend with a decision from the Race Stewards that an additional mandatory pit stop must be made for the entire LMP3 field.
The change comes as a result of Oreca (who supply all of the LMP3 chassis manufacturers with the spec Nissan Nissan VK56/ XTrac powertrain) informing the race stewards of a looming issue after finding that the fuel consumption rates for the new-for-2020 Nissan engines are higher than predicted.
The issue is significant enough that Oreca is concerned about the ability of the cars to complete the full 2-hour race distance in Le Mans Cup on just one pitstop, we expect a commensurate change for the ELMS race regulations shortly.
The Stewards have therefore mandated two stops, one at a minimum of 150 seconds (to allow driver change and tyre change) and the other a fuelling stop only with a minimum time of 40 seconds.
As a knock-on effect, the minimum driving time for each driver in Le Mans Cup is now 50 minutes on LMP3, again for this round only.
A statement from the ACO, promoters of Michelin Le Mans Cup also states that they have expressly asked Oreca to solve the fuel consumption problem before the second round of the Series on 8 August at Spa Francorchamps.
LMP3 is now powered by a new VK56 Nissan engine with 35 bhp more than the previous VK50 powerplant.
There is, as yet, no explanation why the issue was only spotted after the Free Practice sessions here this week after three days of testing involving the new spec cars this week, and significant additional preparatory testing from both the chassis suppliers and their customers.