In a move to make sure the new Hypercars remain fastest on track in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the LMP2 machines have been given more performance cuts ahead of the new season getting underway.
The power of the naturally-aspirated Gibson V8 has been reduced from 30kW/40bhp to 20kW/25bhp, which has brought the overall output of the engines to approximately 535bhp (400kW). This is around an 11% reduction of power for the LMP2 cars since the current regulations were instated in 2017. The minimum weight of the cars has also been increased by 20kg, and cars will only be allowed to run low-downforce aerodynamic configurations, usually designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, throughout the entire season.
This is the second time WEC has brought in performance cuts for the LMP2 cars ahead of the Hypercars making their debut on track at this month’s Prologue and 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
When the initial engine reduction was made, moving the engines to 30kW/40bhp, it was hoped by WEC, Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA that this reduction plus the change to controlled tyres supplied by Goodyear would be enough to make the LMP2 cars slower than the Hypercars. For reference, the Hypercars currently have a target lap time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 3m30s – much slower than the now retired LMP1 cars – whilst in the 2020 race, LMP2s averaged 3m27s around the Circuit de la Sarthe.
LMP2 will now also run the same Goodyear tyres that were used in the 2019/20 season rather than the new control tyres that were expected to be brought in. The ACO’s statement on this read: “Following the initial testing phase and consultation with both Goodyear and the teams, the FIA WEC Committee has decided that retaining the previously used compounds is the most suitable option, given their proven and consistent performance in all conditions as well as their drivability.”
Along with the, the ACO statement declared that further reductions to the engine output would “contribute to lower running costs by extending lifespan of different components” for the LMP2 teams.
The performance cuts will also be applied to LMP2 cars competing in the European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series as of the end of their respective 2021 seasons.