It is no secret that Toyota Gazoo Racing have dominated the FIA World Endurance Championship in the opening two rounds of the Super Season, most notably their 12 lap lead over Rebellion Racing at the chequered flag of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This has pushed the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest to make changes to the Equivalence of Technology (EoT) rules in LMP1 ahead of the next race in August, the 6 Hours of Silverstone, to try and make racing in the class closer.
The biggest change to the EoT ahead of the British endurance race is that the pace advantage Toyota were promised at the beginning of the season (0.25 percent lap time advantage, equivalent of around half a second a lap at Le Mans) has been removed.
Other changes include a fuel flow increase for the non-hybrid cars, upped from 108kg/h to 115kg/h, and an increase to the diameter of the fuel rig restrictor.
The two Rebellion R-13s and the DragonSpeed LMP1 cars all have normally aspirated engines, and because of this, these cars have been given a 15kg weight break.
The official statement from the WEC claims the changes are designed to “ensure an appealing top category and achieve the best possible balance between the performance potential of cars using both hybrid and non-hybrid technologies.” After the total dominance that Toyota have displayed in the first two rounds, the WEC, FIA and ACO had to make some changes or the rest of the season was guaranteed to be unchallenging for them and predicatble.
On reflection of the changes that are due to come into place for the third round of the 2018-19 Super Season, ACO Technical Delegate Thierry Bouvet said: “As a result of the studies carried out this winter we gave private teams a fuel flow to help them achieve performance levels close to those of the hybrid cars.
“We then took advantage of concrete information collected during the Prologue, the first round at Spa and the Le Mans test day. As competitors know, not everything can be foreseen at Le Mans.
“For example, between the test day and qualifying at Le Mans the fastest time in the LMP2 category improved by 2.4 seconds compared to 0.2 seconds for the non-hybrid LMP1s.
“Several factors can explain this such as different track conditions or because the teams didn’t want to compromise reliability.
“Finally, multiple contextual parameters could also have affected certain EoT estimations.”
Just as the automated BoP system needed some time to adjust accordingly when that was brought in last year, the new EoT rules will continue to be tweaked until they can produce the close, wheel-to-wheel racing they are designed to enforce. This definitely shows signs of the class moving in the right direction and the WEC continually striving to put on the best racing show it can produce.
It will start to become clear at Silverstone how effective the new rules are and what the next steps need to be to ensure a close battle in one of the most anticipated classes of the championship.