The additional mandatory fuel stops for LMP3 teams, introduced for both the Michelin Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard last month are set to continue at Spa Francorchamps.
The additional timed stops, for fuel only, were mandated on race morning for both races at Le Castellet in response to the discovery by ORECA of higher than predicted fuel consumption for the new for 2020 Nismo VK56 V8 LMP3 engines, part of the package of upgrades for the new 2020 LMP3s which saw their competitive debut at Paul Ricard.
The excessive fuel consumption issue was not solved by a new engine map tried during the weekend.
The bulletins issued in announcing the additional stops made it clear that the race organisers had insisted that ORECA deliver a solution before this weekend’s track action at Spa Francorchamps.
DSC understands that a viable solution has not yet been found and a bulletin to teams has now been issued amending the Sporting Regulations for this weekend’s events.
Essentially the issue is that the new, more powerful VK56 are using more fuel than the older VK50 5-litre engines, still in use by some teams as part of the cost-reduction process, but with more power than before via a new air restrictor.
It seems then the promise of full parity has not yet been delivered, and that the balance between power and fuel consumption has not yet been achieved though the number of VK50 engines in use is reducing, Nielsen Racing, for instance, have switched to newer engines this weekend having used the remaining engine hours on their VK50s at Paul Ricard.
The LMP3 chassis have been designed in part at least around the current fuel cells so an increase in fuel capacity is not understood to be an available solution.