The FIA World Motor Sport Council has ratified the plans fashioned by the ACO and World Endurance Championship to keep its LMP1 class moving forward after the near collapse of the manufacturer-based Hybrid category.
Among the confirmed items, the shift to what the ACO/WEC refer to as a ‘super season’ that starts in May of 2018 and continues through June of 2019 has received a green light. With only Toyota left to represent LMP1 Hybrids and a larger number of privateer-based LMP1 entries expected next year, the ACO/WEC has dropped the awarding of a Manufacturers’ championship for its top prototype category and replaced it with a Teams’ title.
With the championship now geared for individual entrants, only the top car from each team at every round will earn points towards the Teams’ title. Another adjustment for the class comes in the allowance for current and future LMP1-H manufacturers to supply privateer LMP1 teams with the same internal combustion engines found in their cars. At present, only Toyota would apply, but the opportunity to generate income by powering non-hybrid LMP1 cars could serve as an enticement to bring competition for the Japanese brand.
In another development, the ACO/WEC has suggested manufacturer branding on a privateer LMP1 using its engine could be permitted. It’s a sharp turn from its strict adherence to keeping manufacturers out of the non-manufacturer LMP1 grid.
Yet another attempt to make both types of LMP1s perform at an equal level – something that failed in every previous iteration – has been avowed as the lack of manufacturers has forced the ACO/WEC to cater to its privateers.
One more change has been made where all manner of service will be permitted at the same time during pit stops. This ends the prolonged procedure of waiting for refueling to be completed before tires can be changed. It also means that swapping drivers will need to happen with greater urgency when fuel and tires are taken.
Finally, an extra helping of points will be given at Le Mans (50 percent) and at Sebring (25 percent) when the WEC holds its own race two hours after the competing of the 2019 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours event.
“The format of the 2018-2019 ‘Super Season’ and the new system of allocating points depending on the different races as well as the notion of a single car, the highest placed of two entries entered by the same team, guarantees a hotly-contested championship and close competition between the teams,” said ACO president Pierre Fillon. “The structure of this new championship looks promising.”
Fillon’s counterpart, WEC CEO Gerard Neveu, was buoyed by the changes.
“While we wait for the very encouraging 2020 regulations, these new regulations for 2018-19, together with the positive feedback we have had from teams about the ‘Super Season,’ will guarantee an incredible level of competition in LMP1,” he said.
“With no fewer than five GT manufacturers in LMGTE Pro, and increased interest at this stage from gentleman drivers in LMP2 and LMGTE Am, things are looking good for fans of endurance racing in particular, and motorsport in general! We can’t wait for 2018 to arrive.”