The ACO/FIA rule makers have made a series of decisions regarding the “Joker” upgrades for the LMP2 chassis manufacturers heading into next season. The changes will affect the LMP2 cars racing in the FIA WEC, ELMS and IMSA.
“It was clearly in the regulations, and it was a technical discussion,” FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu told RACER. “I understand that the FIA and ACO received requests from some of the manufacturers regarding performance from this year. So, the technical committee have worked hard for the last three months with the data to investigate that point, and their conclusion was clearly that for one of the three manufacturers, they have a large joker to ameliorate the performance of the car. That’s the Riley – it was very far from the others.
“And for the two others, there are some possibilities to adjust the performance from next year in different levels, be it Le Mans or the normal race packages. The gap was not the same, and the idea is not to balance, but give all the cars a similar level of performance in LMP2, as the interest is to have the same level in each car.”
RACER understands that for 2018, the plan is currently to allow the Riley/Multimatic Mk 30 (pictured below) to have amendments made to the chassis and to both the regular and Le Mans aero kits. This effectively permits the Multimatic outfit to progress with a fully-redesigned car.
Onroak and Dallara, meanwhile, will be permitted to amend their aero kits only. Ligier can update its regular and Le Mans aero on its JS P217, while Dallara will only be allowed to amend the Le Mans-only aero kit on the P217.
Because of the nature of these updates – the purpose being to close the performance gap to ORECA – no ‘Joker’ has been approved for the ORECA 07 (pictured below).
However, Neveu explained to RACER that no final decisions have been taken regarding the exact details of the ‘Joker’ updates to the LMP2 chassis manufacturers.
“There have been communications with the teams, but they have not made final decisions about that (which chassis can change modify which aero kit),” he said. “They have to discuss it now in detail, regarding what they can do or not.”
Later this year, the upgrades will be tested in the Windshear wind tunnel in North Carolina. There, the rule makers will verify them ahead of the 2018 season.
“I don’t know the exact schedule (for the wind tunnel test) but I think it’s by the end of November – this is still in discussion.” Neveu said. “They only just met with the teams yesterday and the day before. They are starting to discuss their conclusions with the data, and now they will make a decision very soon.”
The key to the upgrades is that the chassis in question should not able to exceed the ORECA’s capabilities. Instead, the objective is to ensure that the four chassis are on a similar level going forward.
“The idea with this is not to go up and up and up and spend more money,” Neveu said when asked what would happen if any of the upgrades exceeded the performance of the ORECA considerably. “The only point everyone agrees with is that the ORECA is the best performing car, so the other cars should have the chance to perform at that the level.
“They are working to make sure that (allowing the upgrades to exceed the performance level of the ORECA) will not happen. It’s not possible to say that it will be exactly the same level – you will see a difference – but the idea is to make sure that with the data and analysis that they are on a similar level, so they can fight for wins.
“If this happened (an upgrade proving superior in performance terms to the ORECA) it wouldn’t work: the technical guys will only authorize an upgrade that’s limited enough, ensuring that they haven’t taken another step more than the ORECA.”
There are no clear details as it stands on what process may be followed if a car that’s presented to the wind tunnel test exceeds the ORECA’s capabilities. There is however, a clear intention for there to be no further changes made to the chassis beyond these amendments in the remaining period of their homologation, if they prove successful.