A.C.O. 2009 rules – Silverstone press conference

470 Dunlop Bridge Gabriel

© Planetlemans – Gabriel Portos

In a pretty packed Silverstone Media Centre de A.C.O. unveiled their long awaited 2009 rules. Several team managers were present as the need for definition regarding next years’ plans is critical at this point. The main highlights include rebalancing the diesel vs petrol equivalence, reduce costs, increase safety and postpone the next rule revision to 2011 instead of 2010.

Don Panoz, Patrick Peter and Stéphane Ratel were thanked initially to reinforce the link with the ALMS, LMS and FIA-GT series. Immediately afterwards, the headlines of the new rules were revealed. In the words of A.C.O. President Mr. Jean-Claude Plassart the rules intend to preserve “sportive competitiveness”, “safety improvement through speed reduction” and “cost reductions to ensure the preservation on motorsport” with special accent on environment areas (including noise) and conomy of resources consumption. Le Mans also wants to profile itself as the big laboratory of new automotive technologies: hybrids, alternative energies, etc.

The rules were designed by an A.C.O. commitee of 4 top executives advised by an engineering team. The guiding lines for the rules were the following:

1)A new equivalence in diesel vs petrol engine performance for the LMP1 class.
2)Ensure equivalence in performance of open and closed prototypes, allow and encourage GT1 engine utilization in prototypes.
3)Maintain the performance differences between LMP1 and LMP2.
4)Make LMP2 and GT2 more accessible for privateers.

1)Reduce performance on all classes looking at a target of a 3.30 quickest lap around Le Mans.

Cost reduction
1) Increase tyre change time to reduce tyre consumption.
2) Allow only standard production engines in LMP2 (including GT2 engines)
3) Mandatory use of one engine for 2 races (exception made of the Le Mans 24 Hours)
4) Align GT1 and GT2 with FIA-GT rules for 2010

In the are of sustainable development there will also be measures including usage of eco-fuel, reduce tyre consumption and noise reduction to a maximum of 110db in 2010.

For the 2011 rules (originally they were planned for 2010, more details tba 15th Nov)
1)A new set of revised rules will be issued in 2011, the A.C.O. has new aerodynamic studies in course to define this.
2)Usage of new technologies will be stimulated and promoted.
3)The CO2 emissions will have a substantial reduction.
4)Hybrids will be allowed to race for points as of 2010, 2009 will be a year of collaboration with constructors to define safety and equivalences.
5)Invitations for Le Mans might be issued in 2009 to hybrid cars but they will not be classified/earn points.
6)No revolutions, no fundamental modifications in current aerodynamics of LMP1 and LMP2
7)Both open and closed cars will be allowed

Daniel Poissenot gave more details on both areas:

For 2009:

LMP classes
-10.5% performance reduction in diesels
-Turbo pressure reduction (6.5%) and new rstrictors (2 x 37.9mm) will achieve this
-10% restrictor reduction on LMP2, restrictors will have 0.3mm increase for cars with airco
-The rear wing measures will be reduced (150mm vertical x 250mm horizontal x 1600mm transversal with 20mm minimum Gurney flap)

GT classes
-The rules are still being discussed with FIA and constructors (Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette) for the final definition
-Minimum weight will be increased by 25kg in GT1 , 20kg in GT2
-Also a reduction of rear wings will be applied (25 mm min Gurney flap in GT1, 15mm in GT2)
-Restrictors will be reduced by 2% in GT1 , 5% in GT2
-32 degrees Celsius will be the maximum temperature allowed in the cockpit, no restrictor breaks whatsoever
-The cars will have to have 5mm extra ground clearance.

In general:
-The refuelling and tyre change will still be non-simultaneous procedures. The tyre changes will only be allowed to be performed by 2 mechanics using only 1 gun.
-No pre-heating of tyres will be allowed.
-1 engine must last 2 races in the LMS, ALMS and Asia series.
-A 112db noise limit will be implemented for 2009.
-The fuel for both diesel and petrol engines will have a 10% of bio-fuel.
-Rules will be created for hybrids in cooperation with constructors (e.g. the announced KERS system will be measured and controlled before defining rules)
-For 2010 homologated hybrids will be fully included in the rules.

Rules for 2011
– A significant reduction of engine capacity for LMP1. LMP1 will in fact use today’s LMP2 engines (and A.C.O. will stimulate their use/development as of 2009)
-LMP2 will be encouraged to use GT2 engines with the same restrictors as of today, this will be the rule in 2011.
-Aerodynamics will only have safety-based reviews, no fundamental changes to today’s rules when it comes to performance.

Finally Mr. Plassart announced the flexibility of the A.C.O. to slightly review the rules if valid reasons arise and are justified by the teams.

16 Comments on A.C.O. 2009 rules – Silverstone press conference

  1. It sucks that the Hybrid Zytek won’t be able to score points in the ALMS next year. They might decide to rethink how much effort they put into the program. A possible invitation to LeMans but no points how much sense is that.

    ALMS fans are being robbed. Hopefully Don Panoz and Scott Atherton choose to go their own route on this ruling as they did with the LMP2s last year.

    With GT1 being around till 2011 Someone will definitely make a leap there with the absence of Corvette.

    Zytek can make a killing in 2011 by selling their current P2 engines to P1 customers.

    All those 5.5s go to the foundry for recasting, probably into 3.4s V8 and 2.0L turbo 4 bangers.

    With the downsizing of diesel power the Pescarolos and Courage-Orecas might have a resurgence. The bad news for Peugeot though is that Acura is now in the fray. So More challengers to fight off.

    And come 2010 Toyota might be working on a hybrid of its own. Remember how fast the Dome was in LeMans (its first race)? Imagine it with full toyota backing.

  2. No LMP-evo and Diesel-petrol equivalence change are very good news for fans. For me 1,600mm rear wing width and one-gun tire change does not make sence.

    The hybridization and significant engine capacity reducing would be linked. Current all LMP2 configration…3.4V8, 2.0Turbo and 4.0diesel with KERS to be new style for LMP1? That reduce engine cost however probably increase logistic risk and cost to handle lithium battery system?

    Toyota S-GT drivers drove “works-quality” DomeS102 in 08Lemans. Toyota is believed to develop LMP hybrid and new-3.4V8 for S-GT500. It is interesting link to possibility of future challenger against to Audi and Peugeot!

  3. Wouldn’t not allowing tire to be preheated kinda be a safety risk? Sure its going to make a car slower right away until the tires finally get up to temp. But it sure seems like tempting fate. I also don’t think that taking away a few guys and a wheel gun is really all that worth it. Seems to me when you lose an enduro in the pits its because of mechanical failure, not changing tires or fueling. Generally speaking that is. I’m sure that its happens every now and then but I’d say its the exception, not the rule.

  4. Poor Corvette.
    Now what do they do with the old cars. I know they are gonna race the first part of the season before building their GT2 car. But knowing that they don’t may change a few minds in Detroit.

  5. So how noisy is 112db? I havent a clue. Presumerably the current diesel machines are below that limit. Or are we turning Le Mans and the Le Mans series into a village tea party?


  6. I hate the idea of KERS introduction. Not only it is rather politically driven move, it’s also dull, will cost a fortune to implement and in the end will almost certainly prove ineffective.

  7. Where would Acura race Peugeot in LMS? Acura doesn’t have firm plans to race at Le Mans in 2009 or 2010.

    Toyota is a joke. They have gotten beat by the smallest team in F1 (torro rosso) at the 2008 Italian GP and yet race in NASCAR to sell pickup trucks and even the truck series is on the decline.

    Dome should continue on their own or work with Mazda.

    With KERS, why sit in a box like NASCAR? Why not embrace new technology?

    The noise limit is only going down 2 or 3 db.

    Pescarolo should use the Courage-Oreca chassis by 2010.

  8. Corvette will sell the old GT1 cars to customers. and still support them. The FIA GT is ripe on GT1 racing. Because over there GT1 means overall victory. So there’s nothing going to waste.

    Even if they can’t sell them, there are collectors who wouldn’t mind having these GT1 beasts in their gallery. But judging from the pace of the customer C6Rs this season
    (all of them have won) it’s clear Pratt and Miller support their customers, so there will be buyers.

    They would race Peugeot in Le Mans 24h. Acura is a shoe in to be at Le Mans they just have to be willing to go. But they would have to see how the P1 car stacks up against the ALMS fierce p2s and Audi in 2009 first. Then decide if they’re going. They wouldn’t want to go and be struggling to keep up with a Pescarolo, or Courage-Oreca.

    Pescarolo is a constructor in their own right not just a team. I doubt they would favor a competitor’s work over their own hard labor. If Henri Pescarolo decided to run a few ALMS race (sebring, petit, Laguna) he would get more sponsorship money from his sponsors, which would mean more development funding. It would also make his brand more valuable. Hopefully his business advisor lets him in on that.

  9. Pescarolo started with a Courage C60 and has modified it. Unlike Courage-Oreca, Pescarolo doesn’t use windtunnels. The two would be a great force.

  10. I sent this email to a mate so i figured i’d post it up on this forum

    I reckon hybird stuff freaks the sh*t out of the rule makes in sportscar racing

    pretty much due its affect on fuel economy, something we know is crucial at Le Mans (they want absolute balance alongside diversity of technology, which is funken hard)

    so I reckon it’ll be phased in gradually

    what I think is they should insist people rely more on the electric stuff. do something like 80% normal combustion engine capacity in exchange for free use of electric motors… with no weight reduction… so it really drives the hybrid thing… then do something to compensate for the economy like smaller fuel tanks or somethin

    will be interesting to see what IMSA in the US does compared to the ACO as there’s a Hybrid project going to happen in LMP1 next year by Zytek

  11. It’s great news that the Hybrid rules are still open and constructors will be consulted.
    The critical decision for Sports prototype hybrid rules will be allowing front wheel motors or not. The F1 KERS system is restricted to the rear axle only yet 70% of braking effort is on the front wheels therefore artificially restricting regeneration potential. Toyota has stated publicly that this restriction makes F1 hybrids less advanced than road cars.
    If front wheel motors are allowed at Le-Mans I have no doubt Toyota will return as they already have the first race win for a hybrid with a converted Supra GT car at a 24 hour race. The Hybrid won by 19 laps ahead of 2nd place proving how much potential this new technology has, especially in long distance races.

  12. Can’t wait to see the equal racing between Diesels vs Petrol(GAS) it will be interesting,and Hybrids can’t wait to see them in action, I think in 2010 DOME and Toyota will work together with a Hybrid. Acura will be okay this year they have 2 overall wins and I think a-hand-full of class victories. I think they will do well.

  13. You know what would be even better as “cost reduction” or just a logical new rule: dont limit the gastank in the car anymore, but limit the amount of fuel a car can use per race, just like Group C did. Our times call for better fuel efficient cars, and this is one of the greatest ways we can make it publically acceptible and competative with gas-guzzlers.

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