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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Some drivers unimpressed by WEC’s shift to two-class construction

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The Car Membership de l’Ouest introduced final yr that it won’t be able to accommodate LMP2 vehicles in customary WEC rounds in 2024, proscribing the category to the Le Mans 24 Hours and regional championships such because the European Le Mans Collection.

It means there will probably be simply two classes in WEC subsequent yr, Hypercar and the brand new LMGT3, a serious departure from the four-class construction that had been prevalent because the rebirth of the sequence in 2012 till the tip of final yr.

The ACO had already phased out GTE Professional after the 2022 season, whereas the GTE Am class can be being dropped subsequent yr in favour of a GT3-based class as a part of a serious overhaul of the championship.

Whereas the addition of BMW, Lamborghini and Alpine to the Hypercar division subsequent yr, coupled with the anticipated selection within the new LMGT3 class, is anticipated to result in an extra surge in WEC’s recognition, some query whether or not the sequence’ new construction goes in opposition to endurance racing’s multi-class ethos.

A number of LMP2 race winner Gabriel Aubry, who examined for Hypercar newcomer Isotta Fraschini earlier this yr, has voiced his disappointment concerning the transfer to drop the secondary prototype class from the championship.

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“The historical past of endurance racing is multi-class, proper? So having simply two courses into the race to me would not make plenty of sense,” Aubry, who competed for Vector LMP2 crew this yr, instructed Autosport.

“We have seen from the 60s, perhaps six or seven class racing collectively and it is a part of our racing the place we’ve to play with the visitors, driving in a better class and in addition within the decrease class managing the hypercar coming to you. So I do not need that historical past and that a part of racing to go away from WEC. 

“We’re not doing dash races, we’re doing 24-hour races with multi-class racing. We live collectively on the identical monitor and that is what’s so distinctive to endurance races.”

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 – Gibson: Joshua Pierson, Giedo Van der Garde, Oliver Jarvis, #22 United Autosports Oreca 07 – Gibson: Frederick Lubin, Philip Hanson, Ben Hanley

The choice to remove the LMP2 class from WEC might have an effect on the very nature of racing in WEC, particularly visitors administration, due to the tempo distinction between LMDh/LMH and GT3 vehicles.

Furthermore, Hypercar drivers won’t have to fret about lapping comparatively fast LMP2 vehicles from subsequent yr, a job that was notably tough given how briskly they have been in corners resulting from decrease weight.

United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque, who received each the Le Mans 24 Hours and the WEC class title with the Anglo-American crew in 2019/20, warned that the removing of the LMP2 class might result in some boring phases in races.

“Crucial [thing] in endurance racing and why endurance racing is a lot enjoyable is as a result of one lap isn’t the identical to the opposite and visitors helps each classes,” the 38-year-old instructed Autosport. 

“The GTs use the visitors higher to get benefit and the prototypes use the GTs to get benefit. The extra of a large number, [the more] totally different courses and the extra vehicles there are in several courses, the higher it’s for the competitors. 

“If you’re simply going for much less vehicles it means that you’re going extra to a sprinting manner [of] racing, single class racing which then turns into boring, as a result of when you find yourself following any person you lose downforce.

“That’s the reason different sequence implement DRS to have the ability to move on a straight. Nicely, we do not have DRS. 

“If we run out of different vehicles to be preventing to have within the combine perhaps it may possibly turn out to be an issue there.”

#48 Hertz Team Jota Oreca 07 - Gibson: David Beckmann, Yifei Ye, William Stevens

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#48 Hertz Crew Jota Oreca 07 – Gibson: David Beckmann, Yifei Ye, William Stevens

Porsche LMDh driver Andre Lotterer gave a extra diplomatic view concerning the choice to part out the LMP2 class, highlighting how there will probably be extra vehicles preventing for the general win subsequent yr.

Requested for his ideas on the choice to show WEC right into a two-class sequence, the three-time Le Mans winner instructed Autosport: “It is onerous to say. I’ve to say sure to help the championship however three courses have been additionally very attention-grabbing, however with extra distinction in velocity [it would have been ideal]. 

“It was good [during] LMP1 as a result of they allowed LMP2 vehicles to be sooner and us [in LMP1] have been [even] sooner. And you could possibly see a distinction between the vehicles. In order that was cool. 

“Alternatively it’s extremely good to see so many vehicles within the high class which we by no means had the luxurious of. 

“So in that sense I would wish to say it is higher since you need to have a giant subject of plenty of successful potential vehicles which was by no means the case. Traditionally we have been at a little or no quantity. That will probably be good.”

Regardless of some criticism, many drivers have put their full help behind the transfer to remove LMP2, declaring WEC’s recognition has boomed following an inflow of producers in 2023.

Alex Lynn, who drove for Cadillac this yr after earlier stints in each GTs and LMP2, mentioned: “I assume proper now WEC and sportscar racing usually is in a extremely cool place the place the highest class is so in style. so have it whereas it lasts…..

“[Hypercar] is an achievable class for LMP2 groups to step up. Additionally offers ELMS and different championships and an opportunity to have extra grid. So I feel it is cool.”

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Toyota LMH technical director Pascal Vasselon defined that it was merely not potential to accommodate LMP2 subsequent yr given the excessive curiosity from producers for Hypercar and LMGT3 classes.

Solely 37 vehicles will probably be allowed to participate within the sequence in 2023, the identical quantity as this yr.

“The issue is that the WEC is working out of garages,” Vasselon mentioned. “What is evident is that Hypercar must be there and GT3 must be there. If you go by these two you haven’t any more room. 

“Additionally, I feel the choice they’ve made is the choice by default as a result of nobody wished to push out LMP2 however it’s simply I might say a consequence of what’s going on with large curiosity from producers for Hypercar and GT3.”

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

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