The ACO’s annual Le Mans press conference has become somewhat of an institution over the past few years, and often sees the first announcement of major new developments. This year was no different, as the French governing body reveals the details of some major changes to global sports car racing moving forward.
The first significant announcement concerned the development of GTE regulations in the future. ACO technical director Vincent Beaumesnil was on hand to explain the new regulatory direction. The intention is to turn GTE-Pro into the premium GT category in global sports car racing. Cars will be sped up by up to 3 seconds per lap, while safety regulations will also be revised.
With the introduction of LMP2 regulations that are easier to control, with spec engine and chassis regulations, the intention of the ACO and FIA may be to make GTE-Pro the second-fastest class at Le Mans and give professional manufacturers greater standing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The ACO also outlined its roadmap to reduce costs in LMP2, with confirmation that the number of chassis manufacturers would be limited and a single engine supplier be sought. The desire to retain standardised P2 regulations worldwide was also underlined: “The ACO, IMSA and the FIA continue to work together to develop LM P2 regulations that would allow teams to compete across the Asian Le Mans Series, European Le Mans Series and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship,” the ACO said in a statement.
Confirmation was also provided of the 2017 Garage 56 entry, notably absent from this year’s race. Welter Racing, an experienced Le Mans constructor, will attempt to compete at the 24 hours in a biomethane-powered vehicle.
Image: WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff)