The New Hypercar Class Ruined LMP2

Illustration for article titled The New Hypercar Class Ruined LMP2
Photo: G Drive Racing

Hypercar hasn’t really gone the way that the FIA and the ACO had hoped. It might get there in the end. The new class, picking up where LMP1 left off, starts this year with a pair of Toyotas and maybe a pair from Glickenhaus eventually. Next year Peugeot joins the fray, and the year after that we’ll see Ferrari on the grid. Okay, so by 2023 Hypercar might actually be good. The unfortunate side effect is that to make Hypercar happen, the FIA had to significantly castrate the tier-two LMP2 category.

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Hypercar is going to be a lot slower than than the LMP1s that it replaced. The target lap for a Hypercar at Le Mans is 3 minutes 30 seconds, which is about 5 seconds per lap slower than current spec LMP2. The plan in December of 2019 was to give LMP2 a really shitty spec tire to slow them down. That plan is now dead in the water.

Following a recent pre-season tire test to determine the viability of the new hard rubber, Goodyear sent a letter to all of its customers stating the following:

“Through that process it has become evident to all parties that fully achieving their required performance reduction in tires will bring ‘drivability’ consequences that are not acceptable to all parties.”

As a result, basically every part of the LMP2 specification has been, ahem, adjusted to make them fit the ‘performance window’ allotted to the class. Instead of 603 horsepower, the spec Gibson V8s in the back of an LMP2 car will now be restricted to just 536 ponies. Each car will be also forced to gain 44 pounds of dead weight, with a new minimum weight of 2095 pounds.

The most egregious change, however, is the mandate that all cars use a Le Mans-spec low-downforce aerokit for the entirety of the 2021 season. LMP2s already have a hard enough time fighting for space on track with GTE cars, but this low downforce setup on tracks like Silverstone and Fuji will make life just that much harder for them.

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As you can see, LMP2 teams aren’t taking the changes very well.

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The pole-winning LMP2 at Silverstone last time only had about 13 seconds of per-lap speed over the pole-winning GTE Pro car. There’s no way in hell GTE Pro is going to be okay with slowing down accordingly, so Porsche, Corvette, and Ferrari are going to be right up LMP2's ass the whole race. It’s safe to say that this is going to be a jumbled-up season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more contact from the sport.

Considering the LMP2 class is cost-capped at 480,000 euros, and now isn’t much faster than the 190,000 euro LMP3 class, what the fuck is the point?

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

DISCUSSION

How about a business model that doesn’t involve a class of field-fillers that no one other than their wealthy, bored owners and champagne-tilling sponsors cares about?

Show me a photo of one fan in the stands wearing an LMP2 team’s merch and I’ll retract this.