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Monday, March 4, 2024

Shedding highly-competitive LMP2 class from WEC a “disgrace”, say drivers

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LMP2 has been a staple of WEC for the reason that inception of the championship in 2012, though it has its roots within the LMP675 class that was launched by the Car Membership de l’Ouest again in 2000.

LMP2 shaped an necessary a part of WEC, bridging the hole between the highest division and the GT lessons whereas additionally being dwelling to some main drivers and groups.

However with extra producers becoming a member of the burgeoning Hypercar class, and bumper purposes acquired for the brand new LMGT3 division, the ACO was left with no possibility however to part out the second-tier prototype class from all common WEC rounds in 2024.

Le Mans 24 Hours would be the solely WEC race the place LMP2 vehicles will probably be eligible to enter from subsequent 12 months, with a minimal of 15 entries assured by the rulemakers.

Whereas the expansion of the Hypercar class signal is a big enhance for the championship, many have lamented that it has come at the price of a class that was an necessary a part of the endurance racing ladder.

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Filipe Albuqerque, who did the Le Mans/title double with United Autosports within the COVID-impacted 2019/20 season, stated he’ll fondly keep in mind his time within the LMP2 class as he switches focus to his IMSA SportsCar Championship programme with Acura.

Albuquerque pointed how LMP2 vehicles have been so fast that they needed to be artificially slowed down by laws with the intention to guarantee there may be sufficient gulf in efficiency to the brand new LMH and LMDh contenders.

“It was a good time,” the Portuguese instructed Autosport. “I keep in mind these vehicles very properly. I’ve been right here for the reason that very starting of those vehicles of the LMP2. 

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#22 United Autosports Oreca 07 – Gibson: Frederick Lubin, Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque

“I keep in mind leaving Fuji with the old-spec vehicles and going to check the primary LMP2 [for 2017] and I used to be amazed how fast they have been. 

“They’d put these vehicles within the fingers of gentleman drivers, which then we might see them leaving as a result of it was too fast. So by now we sluggish these vehicles down as a result of clearly they have been too fast for the brand new [LMH/LMDh] laws. 

“But it surely’s been like a confirmed idea.”

Opinion:

He added: “We’ve got seen the sphere rising massively even when it was like a [secondary] class and never the principle one.

“LMP2 at one level was far more aggressive than LMP1. [United] have been within the combine and it was very good and rewarding. 

“What I’ll miss as properly from LMP2 whenever you have been doing pole place by three tenths or 4 tenths, the benefit goes to the motive force and the group as a result of there isn’t any Steadiness of Efficiency and that is nice.”

A number of LMP2 race winner Gabriel Aubry careworn the significance of LMP2 in honing the abilities of up-and-coming drivers and hopes different championships just like the European Le Mans Sequence – the place P2 types the highest class – will be capable of fill the hole left by its departure from the WEC.

“I am somewhat bit unhappy to see LMP2 going away as a result of it is an ideal platform for kids to show themselves earlier than going to the upper class,” Aubry instructed Autosport.

#10 Vector Sport Oreca 07 - Gibson: Gabriel Aubry

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#10 Vector Sport Oreca 07 – Gibson: Gabriel Aubry

“So, hopefully ELMS will come up and be that platform to the younger era popping out of single seaters and not using a future in F1 or price range to do F2 and F3, as a result of that was my case. 

“I moved right here as a result of I cherished WEC but in addition as a result of I had no future in Formulation 1. Hopefully this step will stay.”

Newly-crowned LMP2 champion Louis Deletraz highlighted how the category was dwelling to some top-level drivers and groups, regardless of in concept being a feeder class to Hypercar.

His team WRT has been so spectacular in LMP2 that it has been chosen by BMW as its official manufacturing facility associate for its Hypercar entry subsequent 12 months with its Dallara-based LMDh automobile.

“As a driver, the politics of the championship is just not actually my factor. What I can say is that P2 is a incredible championship and has been giving sufficient alternatives for younger drivers and groups to develop,” the Swiss instructed Autosport.

“And whenever you see the extent, the LMP2 groups are higher than some Hypercar groups. So it is fairly spectacular. 

“It is a class I really like, I have been right here three years, and it is a disgrace it will not be in WEC. 

Louis Deletraz interview:

“However whenever you see when now we have round 20 vehicles in Hypercar, it is also fairly superior, so you can’t complain.”

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#41 Crew WRT Oreca 07 – Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

Tom Ferrier’s TF Sport squad has pursuits in each the GT and LMP2 lessons of endurance racing, placing him ready to remark about WEC’s determination to transition to a two-class construction.

Though TF Sport is healthier identified for its GTE Am exploits with Aston Martin, and likewise made waves earlier this 12 months after asserting a partnership with Corvette for the brand new LMGT3 division, it additionally operates a lesser-known group below the Racing Crew Turkey banner in ELMS.

Ferrier stated he’s taking a look at each execs and cons of WEC’s determination to drop LMP2 to make method for an elevated variety of vehicles within the remaining two lessons.

“It is unhappy to lose LMP2, nice class and nice battles,” he instructed Autosport. “However once more on the flip aspect it is good that the highest class is transferring and it is nice to have extra GT vehicles on the grid as properly. 

“Count on some fairly fierce battles in every with 18 vehicles going face to face, 9 totally different producers. 

“I believe it can make it enjoyable, however nonetheless a disgrace to lose what has been an excellent class in LMP2.”



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