The Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced the 2011 regulations on Monday (December 20th), the same day the entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Intercontinental Le Mans cup and the Le Mans Series opened up. The latest draft of the regulations is based on four key elements; Safety, Sustainable development, Level playing field and cost capping.
Let’s take a class-by-class look at the new regulations, starting with the LMP1 and LMP2 categories.
LMP1 – new regulations in place for three seasons (2011-2013)
The biggest changes in the LMP1 are the aerodynamic changes on the engine cover (the shark fin) as well as the new, less powerful engines. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest aims to reduce the overall speed around the Circuit de la Sarthe and prevent the LMP1 cars from setting lap times that are below the 3:30 mark. The engine power is expected to go down to around 520 bhp and the new engines should use less fuel.
Fuel tank capacity will be reduced in 2011 as well. Whatever the outside ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure is the petrol-powered cars will have a maximum of 75 liters, while the diesel cars can only have 65 liters onboard.
Another change is the acceptance of hybrid technologies in 2011. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest will keep an eye on the safety aspects with hybrid technologies and will also make sure that hybrid technology will not be used for driver aids. All kinds of hybrid technology are allowed – including flywheel systems – as long as the recovery and release of energy from the brakes is on either the front wheels or the rear wheels (not both). Cars equipped with hybrid technology will have a minimum weight of 900 kg but will have a reduced fuel limit; 73 liters for a petrol car and 63 liters for a diesel.
Another interesting article in the technical regulations is the much disputed balance of performance, or ‘Adjustment of the performance’ as it is called in the Automobile Club de l’Ouest regulations. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest wants to keep the performance level of the different types of engines and/or fuels within 2% of each other and therefore reserves the right to adjust the minimum weight of a car, the air restrictor sizes and the fuel tank capacity.
In 2011 the Automobile Club de l’Ouest will also accept 2010 cars. These cars must run in their 2010 specification and are only accepted if they ran in at least one Automobile Club de l’Ouest-sanctioned race in 2010. The only changes made to the 2010-spec cars are modifications to the engine for the new air restrictors and the fitting of smaller (75 l) fuel tanks.
LMP2 – new rules in place from 2011 until 2015
The new regulations for LMP2 are set in favour of privateer teams. The key element in the LMP2 regulations is cost capping. LMP2 will only be open to privateer teams; manufacturer squads are not allowed.
According to the new Automobile Club de l’Ouest regulations the price of a new LMP2 chassis can not exceed EUR 345 000,00, while an engine for the LMP2 category can not cost more than EUR 75 000,00. For 2011 a race engine should be able to last 30 hours before being revised, while the revision costs can not exceed EUR 35 000,00. In the coming years the running time is set to increase from 30 hours to 40 hours and then to 50 hours. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest may cancel the homologation of the car if the prices defined are not respected!
In order to keep control over the costs of running an LMP2 car only one evolution per year is permitted and this evolution should be homologated before the first event of the season in which the car is entered. A low drag kit may be homologated by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, but the price of this upgrade kit can not exceed EUR 10 000,00.
Teams with a 2010-spec LMP2 chassis can run this car until 2013 with the conditions that a new homologation form must be completed, no bodywork modification is allowed, the minimum weight of the car will be increased to 920 kg and only for the Le Mans 24 Hours a low drag kit may be used, as long as the price does not exceed EUR 5 000,00. Further changes are only allowed if they are required to replace the engine with a new-spec engine. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest will reserve the right to modify the 2010-spec cars if their performance exceeds that of the new 2011-spec models.
Every team that enters an LMP2 car will have to include a gentleman driver in its line-up. This means each team will have to enter a Silver or Bronze driver in its line-up. Bronze drivers are however not allowed to race an LMP1 car.