ACO releases the 2011 technical regulations
It approves performance balancing
On the 20th December, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest released the technical regulation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011 which also applies to ILMC Series, ALMS and LMS. In addition, it is philosophy of regulatory evolution until 2015 that the sports legislature wished to unveil.
Here are the main outlines and the philosophy behind them. The basic aim of the regulations is to improve the following fundamental aspects:
— Environmental protection to reduce gas emissions, noise and the use of consumable items (fuel, tyres, brake pads, etc);
— Maintain a level playing field for all entrants from a sporting and technical point of view thanks to the fact that the ACO can adjust the cars’ performance during the season;
— Cost capping.
The main modifications by category
Regulations valid for three seasons from 2011 to 2013 with the possibility of renewal.
1. The introduction of a new, less powerful engine whose aim is to keep lap times from falling below the 3 m 30s mark on the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit. The power of the engines will be reduced to around 520 bhp and they willemit fewer gasses and use less fuel.
2. Acceptance of new technologies. The progressive introduction of hybrid engines will be accompanied by aspecification concerning the safety aspects involved in their use, and also to make sure that they do not developinto driver aids. The recovery and restitution of energy under braking can be done on either the front or rear axles, but not on both on the same car. All kinds of hybrid technologies are acceptable.
3. Obligatory aerodynamic device (shark’s fin) on the engine cover of brand new cars to improve safety.
4. Systematic checks of wings’ deflection.
5. Performance adjustment through the application of article 19 (the ACO reserves itself the possibility of balancing performances between the different engines and technologies) as well as the 2% rule. This means keeping the lap times of the quickest cars in each technology within a range of 2% in relation to the quickest car, all technologies combined, through decisions taken by the ACO.
6. 2010 cars can still race in 2011. The technical configuration must comply with that of 2010, but the air restrictors on the engine will be modified and the fuel tank’s capacity reduced to 75 litres (compared to 90 L) to adapt to the new regulations aimed at reducing the overall power of the engines.
Future evolutions from 2014 or 2015 in the LM P1 category:
The ACO intends to bring in new innovative eco-responsible regulations to ensure that it always remains in the vanguard of environmental protection.
The future regulations will be based on five major premises:
— A given quantity of energy will be allocated to each car so that it will be up to the entrant to make the best use of it to win the race. The efficiency (ratio of energy expended/number of kilometers covered) will thus become as important a factor as out-and-out performance and reliability.
— Opening up fully to new technologies by examining and accepting the most innovative power units.
— Reduction in the size and weight of the cars.
— Reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, the aim being to reach 5000 kms with 1500 litres of fuel (with an equivalence table according to the fuels). In 1990, a car covered 5000 kms in the 24 Hours using 2550 litres of fuel, while in 2010 the most economical vehicle used 1875 litres to achieve the same performance.
— Continue to reduce the number of tyres. This aim has already borne fruit. In 2010, some LM P1s used 11 sets of tyres in the Le Mans 24 Hours compared to nineteen in 2008!
The regulations coming into force in 2011 will run until 2015 to provide greater rule stability that will favour the development of private teams, the principal aim of this category. Priority will be given to cost reduction.
The main outlines of the regulations.
1. The price of a new car (engine not included) must not exceed 345 000 euros.
2. The engines, all from series production, may not be sold for more than 75 000 euros.
3. The minimum gap between revisions is 30 hours’ running time and the cost of a revision must not exceed 35 000 euros. During the next five years the running time between revisions will increase to forty and then fifty hours.
4. Each driver line-up must include a gentleman driver who meets the criteria laid down in the driver categorization system already in force.
5. To avoid forcing the teams to invest in a new car in 2011, the 2010 LM P2s may continue to race in 2011. The ACO will make adjustments to ensure that they are not quicker than the 2011 machines.
The GT1 category has been outlawed and the GTE regulations are 95%-based on the current GT2 rules. Two classes have been created: GTE Am and GTE Pro.
GTE Am: only a single professional driver per driver line-up. The model of the car entered must be at least one year old. The aim of this is to create a second market for GT cars.
GTE Pro: No restrictions on either models or drivers. The performance balancing system already existing in the ACO regulations will be adjusted from the third race of the season (all series combined: ILMC. ALMS, LMS) to guarantee a level playing field from a sporting point of view.
FORMULA LE MANS
These cars are allowed in the ALMS (under the LMPC designation), the LMS as well as the 6-Hour race in China in 2011. They are not allowed to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours, but can run on the test day on 24th April 2011 for the Le Mans 24 Hours. They will not have their own classification in the ILMC.
If necessary, the performance level will be adjusted to maintain the 2010 gap between the two categories (FLM, LM P2).
The team winning this category in the Le Mans Series will be given an invitation for the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours in LM P2.
— The Le Mans 24-Hours test day on the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit, which was not held in 2009 and 2010 will be organized again on 24th April 2011. It is a free session. Attendance at this test day, which the teams will have to pay for, is not obligatory except for those drivers and/or cars that have never competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
— ‘’The 56th pit’’. As in the past the ACO reserves itself the right to accept a 56th car running outside the regulations and classifications in the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as in all Le Mans-governed events provided that the vehicle in question is part of an innovative technological project that respects safety, reliability and performance criteria.
— A new data acquisition system will be obligatory for all cars (Formula Le Mans excepted) to improve the follow-up of the checks carried out and also to widen their scope. This device will have increased potential to ensure a longer life. The increased data analysis will provide a better evaluation of the performance of the cars and the technologies used.
— A sensor will be added in the catch tanks recuperating oil and water splash to take into account the environmental and safety rules (prevention of oil splashes).
— In 2011 the regulations concerning the points bonus awarded according to the extended use of engines in LMS will be deleted in LM P1 and LM P2. This decision has been taken because of the introduction of new engines that require a development phase.
— Creation of Commissions per category for LM P1, LM P2 and LM GTE. These will consist of six or eight members from among the manufacturers, entrants, engine builders and their aim will be to define and oversee the evolution of the regulations as well as participation in performance equivalence studies.
More on Endurance