17/12/18

Hybrid Hypercars to Compete at Le Mans

It’s official: top tier Endurance Racing is changing rather significantly from 2020! Gone are the super futuristic LMP1 cars that we’ve enjoyed over the years and in are the next breed of incredible hybrid hypercars that have sprung up in the last year or so. 

The change basically means that cars like the sensational Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG One (formally Project One) – that aim to bring Formula One performance to public roads - will have a place to really show what they’re made of. It’s a class that feels like it should carry a certain amount of old school GT1 nostalgia … but with cars that produce around 1,000bhp.

You’ll have noticed over recent years that many of the big name teams that competed in the LMP1 category of WEC, the likes of Porsche and Audi, started to drop out of the sport in favour of other motorsports. Key drivers in this decision were often cost and relatability to the real world; LMP1 cars are far from cheap to run and often don’t really offer much to take-away in terms of road car development.  

This new category of hypercars will combat those problems thanks to their comparatively ‘cheap’ nature. The aim is to create a class that encompasses both factory and private teams that are capable of running a full season competitively for 20 million euros (that includes running costs for two hybrid top tier cars). It may seem like a lot of money but, compared to the current top tier, it’s a lot more accessible.

The rules state that all cars must feature a hybrid system and place a whole host of rules on the amount of downforce and drag that can be applied to the car. The latter ensures that teams don’t just create a new breed of LMP1 car by seeking unlimited gains in the wind tunnel and means that they can spend more time on how the car looks, ensuring that it resembles something you could actually see on the road from each respective brand.

McLaren F1 at Le Mans

Excitingly, there are no restrictions when it comes to whether a team wishes to create a small turbocharged engine or large naturally aspirated unit. This essentially means that we could see Formula One inspired 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrids go head-to-head with large displacement V12 hybrids.

Regardless of displacement or induction method, maximum output from the engine is 687bhp and one 264bhp electric motor is required to be fitted to the front axle. To ensure that manufacturers don’t make gains through super lightweight power systems, minimum weights have been set for the engine (180kg), battery (70kg) and electric motor (50kg).

All-in-all, the FIA expect this new breed of racing car to accomplish Le Mans qualifying times of around 3 minutes and 22 seconds and race lap times of around 3 minutes 27 seconds. Whilst these times are off the pace of the current LMP1 class, they’ll hopefully offer more excitement due to there being a larger number of teams all operating more competitive cars that are actually relatable in the real world.

Whilst we love the current LMP1 class that competes at Le Mans and in WEC, we can’t help but be excited to see what’s effectively a modern version of GT1. What do you think of this new hypercar class? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.


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