During the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced the initial plans for the change in regulations for the LMP1 class. These changes will come into play for the 2020 World Endurance Championship. One of the rules that had been highlighted is that the LMP1 cars will be required to complete the first kilometre after every pit stop on electrical power only.
What was originally perceived as a joke has been confirmed by Toyota Gazoo Racing and Porsche as anything but. Both current LMP1-Hybrid teams are happy with the new rules as it falls in line with developments in the automotive industries and gives them more reason to stay in WEC. The technology they develop and run on their racing cars with have direct correlation to the road cars they produce.
“This will be very similar to the plug-in hybrid technology in road cars where you use electric mode in the city and then go onto internal combustion engine when you move onto the highway.” Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s Motorsport GmbH technical director, explained. “Therefore it is very relevant.”
Andreas Seidl, Porsche’s LMP1 team principal, said that the rule that would ask teams to produce zero-emissions running was a “natural move for the championship.”
The relevance to the road cars the teams manufacture is a major part of the cost-cutting scheme the FIA and ACO are trying to achieve in the LMP1 class for 2020 to bring in more teams to the category. Vasselon pressed the importance of LMP1 not just becoming a ‘super Daytona-Prototype international’ by stating: “Manufacturers such as Toyota have come into the WEC because it is an opportunity to showcase high-level technology that is relevant to road car development. Everyone wants to save costs, but not at the expense of emptying the technological tank.
“We don’t want a super DPi, because then we would stop.”
The rule, being referred to as the ‘one-kilometre rule’ will enable and encourage the LMP1 teams to complete plug-in rapid charging for the hybrid batteries during pit-stops. This is along the same lines as the battery pit stops that Dr. Don Panoz hopes to be able to accomplish with his new GT-EV car.
Along with this rule, the LMP1 cars will have to finish all WEC races in electrical mode, come the 2020 season.
These rules will begin to cut costs as the FIA and ACO will enforce a common charging system that all manufacturers will have to use. This is a way for development costs to be limited but still allow teams the technical development that they wish to keep in the LMP1 class.