The UK-based LMP3 Cup Championship will open its doors to Ligier JSP4 cars ahead of its second season.
Launched in 2017, the JSP4 is an entry-level prototype that falls under the FIA-sanctioned Free Formula Racing Cars (Group E) category.
Its introduction is expected to boost interest in the ACO-sanctioned series, which struggled for entries during its inaugural campaign last year.
In addition to teams committing to the JSP4 package, the 2018 LMP3 Cup is set to attract customer outfits running the Ligier JSP3 and Norma M30 LMP3 prototypes.
“I am delighted to confirm that having worked closely with the ACO and MSVR we have reached an agreement to run this class,” said Bute Motorsport managing director Chris Haynes.
“This move will further cement the status of the LMP3 Cup as the go-to championship for those who aspire to race at Le Mans, whilst broadening its appeal to more teams and drivers alike.”
The 2018 LMP3 Cup calendar will take in 12 rounds across six weekends, including two shared races with the Bute-run GT Cup at Spa-Francorchamps in June.
It has not been confirmed how the JSP4 will fit into the championship class system, which currently sub-divides its entries based on the lineup’s FIA driver ratings.
The JSP4 is manufactured by Onroak Automotive, and is one of three sports prototypes currently issued under the ‘JSP’ moniker, alongside the JSP3 and the JSP217 LMP2 car.
It is powered by a 3.7 litre V6 Ford engine capable of producing 420 brake horsepower – the same amount as the JSP3’s V8 Nissan unit.
“It makes perfect sense to have an additional ‘P4’ style class alongside the LMP3 cars, in the same way GT racing around the world has GT3 and GT4,” said Richard Dean, managing director of Ligier UK agent United Autosports.
“The Ligier P4 cars, share the same carbon fibre monocoque and safety standards as the Ligier LMP3 cars, so they complement each other well and serve as both a feeder series and training ground.”
“We have had a great reception at Autosport International when we launched the P4 car and all that was really missing was a UK series where you can regularly race these cars. Congratulations to Bute Motorsport and the ACO in taking the initiative.”
The opening weekend of the LMP3 Cup will take place at Donington Park on April 21-22.