Slowing down the current generation of LMP2 cars would "not be a bad thing at all" as it would help attract more gentleman drivers to support the category, believes Anthony Davidson.
Speeds in the FIA World Endurance Championship's secondary prototype category increased dramatically in 2017, when a new generation of LMP2 cars with spec Gibson engines made their debuts, with qualifying times below the 3m25s mark at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
However, the FIA and WEC organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest have acknowledged that the LMP2s will need to be slowed in 2020 when the new breed of hypercars arrive, with the new top class predicted to have a race pace at La Sarthe of around 3m30s.
Ex-Toyota LMP1 and Super Aguri Formula 1 driver Davidson feels slowing down the LMP2s would be beneficial for a category that is increasingly dominated by silver-rated drivers who are virtually on a par with their professional gold- and platinum-rated squadmates.
He cited the example of Francois Perrodo, who has returned to the GTE Am ranks for the 2019/20 campaign after spending two seasons in LMP2, as the sort of driver who could be turned off by the current generation of machinery.
"Although they are good cars to drive, they are hard cars to drive for what’s supposed to be a category for Am drivers," Davidson told Motorsport.com. "They’re pretty ferocious machines, it calls on all my skillset to get the thing around the track consistently and quickly.
"The Porsche Curves for example, they aren’t far away from the speeds I’m used to in LMP1. And that’s pretty daunting for an am driver that’s never experienced an LMP2 car before.
"They’re on the fast side for [the drivers] I believe it should be catered for. I can understand they have to slow them down because of the hypercars, but I actually think it would be an even better thing for the series to attract more silver and bronze drivers.
"You have drivers like Perrodo who left LMP2 to go back to GTs and I don’t think you’ll see that in the future if the cars are easier to drive and slower than they currently are.
"The racing world survives on people with money to pay to come and race. But if the cars are too fast, too twitchy, too aero-dependent, it won’t attract as many of those people as it should do. So I don’t think it would be a bad thing at all."
#28 TDS Racing, Oreca 07-Gibson: Loic Duval, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Francois Perrodo
Photo by: Joe Portlock / LAT Images
On how the LMP2s could be slowed, Davidson added: "A nice way to do it would be to slightly reduce the power and force everyone to use longer gear ratios like they did for Daytona [at the Rolex 24]. Make them a bit more power-limited rather than grip-limited."
Davidson revved up for JOTA challenge
Along with 2018/19 teammates Roberto Gonzalez and Pastor Maldonado, Davidson made the switch from DragonSpeed to the JOTA Sport squad for the new campaign, although Maldonado dropped out of the squad's line-up last week.
Davidson described the move from Michelin to Goodyear tyres as the biggest change the squad faced, and remarked how the opposition in the LMP2 class has improved.
He said: "Team Nederland, they’re on the Oreca, they’re even faster than they were last season, United Autosports is here in the WEC and they have a good car crew, and an Oreca.
"The LMP2 grid is the tightest [in the series]. If you give away a couple of tenths you drop many positions, which is the way racing should be. There’s nowhere to hide, everybody’s got the same equipment pretty much; there’s a mini tyre war, which is healthy for the racing.
"Many things are going in the right direction for LMP2, I’m looking forward to that challenge."
Ex-BMW GTE driver Antonio Felix da Costa confirmed on Saturday he will be partnering Davidson and Gonzalez in the #38 JOTA Oreca for the new season.
The trio's car will run in a special Goodyear livery to mark the famed American tyre brand's return to top-flight sportscar racing.
The WEC 4 Hours of Silverstone will be streamed live on Motorsport.tv. Click here for more coverage details.
Photo by: Nick Dungan Photography
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