British motorsport and engineering firm Ginetta has announced that a team will field two of its new LMP1-spec prototype racecars in the 2018 World Endurance Championship.
Still in development, the prototype is expected to be roughly 130 pounds lighter than a current LMP2-spec car. Power, meanwhile, will come from an engine sourced from French firm Mecachrome and is expected to peak at 800 horsepower.
The news means there will still be at least three teams competing in the sport’s premier LMP1 class following the exit of Porsche at the end of the current season, and additional entries could be announced in the coming months. Porsche announced in July that it’s quitting the WEC to focus on Formula E, leaving Toyota and privateer ByKolles Racing Team as the sole remaining teams.
As a result of Porsche’s decision, the WEC’s organizers, the ACO and FIA, have been forced to significantly revise the LMP1 class. The new rules, which will tide things over until a new format is introduced for the 2020 season, will see the introduction of a single LMP1 specification instead of the current twin format which accounts for hybrid and non-hybrid cars. There will also be more powertrain options to choose from.
Ginetta’s 2018-spec LMP1 prototype racecar designed for the 2018 World Endurance Championship
So called “Equivalence of Technology” rules will ensure each team in the LMP1 class will have the same potential of performance independent of the powertrain type. The organizers do note that teams running a hybrid powertrain, likely to be Toyota only, will have a slight advantage due to lower fuel consumption, however.
The good news is that being competitive will no longer require huge budgets, meaning we could see more manufacturers and teams join.
“The budgets invested over these last years in LMP1 Hybrid are no longer sustainable and a return to reasonable budgets should allow all manufacturers to compete in this discipline,” a statement from the ACO and FIA read.
Currently leading the 2017 WEC season is Porsche and its drivers Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.