ACO outlines plan for 2009 and beyond

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) held a press conference Saturday at Silverstone, site of the season-ending Le Mans Series race, confirming the short and long-term regulations for Le Mans-branded championships. The French organizers have...

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) held a press conference Saturday at Silverstone, site of the season-ending Le Mans Series race, confirming the short and long-term regulations for Le Mans-branded championships. The French organizers have elected to postpone its new rules package to 2011, and instead slowly phase in some of the changes over the next two years.

ACO President Jean-Claude Plassart outlined the importance of restoring the balance not only between diesel and gasoline-powered LM P1s, but also the performance differences in the P1 and LM P2 categories. Next year, diesel-powered prototypes will receive a 10 percent air restrictor reduction, as well as a 6.5 percent reduction on the supercharger pressure. This roughly equates to a total performance decrease of 10.5 percent. Production-based engines in P1, such as the GT1 Aston Martin powerplant, will have a 3 percent restrictor cut. Current gasoline-fueled engines that are not production-based will remain in this year's current configuration.

All P2 engines will also receive a 10 percent air restrictor reduction, as organizers aim to make a larger differential between the two prototype categories. However, production-based engines from the GT2 category will become eligible in P2 next year, as part of the phase-in plan.

In 2011, current P2 engines will effectively become the new P1 powerplants, and GT2-based production engines will then be mandatory in P2. These measures are aimed at slowing down the prototypes. Around 150 hp will be lost with the new P1 engine configuration in 2011. Coupled with a new wing configuration (to be introduced next year), the ACO's new lap time target around Le Mans will be in the 3:42 range, once all of these changes fall into place.

More detailed technical regulations for 2011 will be released on November 15, but it's already understood that there will only be slight changes to current prototype chassis configuration. Teams and constructors will still have a choice between open and closed-top cars, with the focus concentrated on the introduction of new technologies and reduction in costs.

The ACO also revealed that Hybrid cars, like Corsa Motorsports' recently announced Zytek program for the ALMS, will be eligible to compete next year, but not for points. Hybrids will not be classified in race results until 2010, once a more defined regulations package is developed.

Organizers also confirmed it will adopt the FIA's new regulations for GT cars in 2010, but there will be slight changes made to the production-based machines for next year. GT1 cars will have a 25kg weight increase, while a 2 percent air restrictor reduction. In GT2, 20 kg will be added, with a 5 percent air restrictor decrease. The aim is to slow both categories by 4 seconds a lap at Le Mans.

Cost-reduction measures will also be taken in all four classes, with engines now having to last two races in all series. There will also be a change in the way pit stops are orchestrated, as only one air gun will be allowed to be used during stops. This is aimed at encouraging teams to run harder tire compounds, so less tires are consumed during a race. A reduction in noise level will also come into effect, as will the outlawing of tire warmers in any such matter.

A more detailed explanation of the future regulations is expected to come during the ACO's next press conference, scheduled for November 15.

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Series ALMS , Le Mans , European Le Mans