Oreca's LMP2 rivals given upgrade breaks to close gap

LMP2 constructors Ligier, Dallara and Riley/Multimatic will be allowed to upgrade their cars for next season to help them close the performance deficit to the benchmark Oreca chassis.

Oreca's LMP2 rivals given upgrade breaks to close gap

The new LMP2 regulations introduced for the 2017 season, which limited the category to four car makers and mandated a spec Gibson V8 normally-aspirated engine, allow for developments to ensure close competition between the different chassis and therefore safeguard the investment of the teams.

The FIA and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, who framed the new rules, have decided to allow three of the constructors to develop their cars after analysing their performance in key races so far this year.

These events include the Le Mans 24 Hours, at which all four constructors were represented, and the opening five rounds of European Le Mans Series, in which the Ligier JS P217 and the Dallara P217 have gone up against the Oreca.

Rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship other than Le Mans were not taken in consideration because only the Oreca 07 races in the series.

A statement from the ACO said that Ligier, Dallara and Riley/Multimatic will be permitted to make "different evolutions" to the Le Mans and sprint versions of their cars.

No detail was given about the extent of the modifications that will be allowed to the respective machines.

The allowed modifications have resulted from a consultation process between the rulemakers and the constructors.

It is understood that the Riley Mk30, developed in conjunction with Multimatic Motorsport, will be allowed more significant modifications than the Ligier and the Dallara.

The ACO statement read: "The ACO and the FIA have made clear to the different protagonists the rules and objectives of these modifications: namely, to maintain the competitiveness of the three constructors in relation to Oreca in 2018 without, however, giving one of them a consistent advantage compared with the benchmark car.

"The ultimate aim is to ensure that LMP2 remains a category in which variety and hotly-contested racing prevail."

No evolutions will be allowed to the Oreca, which took the top four positions on the road at Le Mans in June, and has been on pole position for every ELMS race so far, winning two of the five rounds.

The cost of any evolutions have to be borne by the constructor and updates passed onto its customers free of charge.

It had been planned that each manufacturer would be allowed one 'joker' over the planned four-season life of the new rules, though this terminology was omitted from the final LMP2 regulations.

The updates allowed will, in theory, affect DPi machinery competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where the championship-winning Cadillac is based on the Dallara, the Mazda on the Riley and the Nissan on the Ligier.

The new Acura to be run by Penske next season has been developed around the Oreca.

The LMP2 rules also allow for performance balancing by adjusting the weight, engine air-restrictor sizes and fuel capacities of the different cars.

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