Surprising decision 24 hours ago at Le Mans

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) informed the manufacturers competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (10/11 June) on Wednesday of this week that they intend to improve the balance of performance ( BoP) for the double point highlight in the WEC calendar 2023 to be revised at short notice.

Just four days before the cars hit the track at Sunday’s official test day at Le Mans, the BoP changes were presented as a fait accompli. No attempt was made to obtain the unanimous approval of the manufacturers. This would theoretically be necessary to make changes outside the regulations of the hypercar system newly introduced for 2023.

The FIA ​​and ACO, which have the final say through the instance of the WEC Committee, have exercised their right to make unilateral changes to the BoP. This was tacitly acknowledged in a joint statement by the FIA ​​and ACO published on Thursday morning. The new BoP table for the 24h Le Mans is referred to as a “correction”.

The statement explains that the changes were necessary because the performance differences between the cars built on the hypercar rules were “greater than initially thought”. All seven brands competing in the hypercar class have signed the new system for 2023. This is intended to prevent manufacturers from hiding their true performance or getting a cheap BoP through so-called “sandbagging”.

New BoP for Le Mans: Toyota punished the most

Toyota will be penalized the most under the amended BoP. The GR010 Hybrid LMH, which won all of the first three WEC races of the season, will have its minimum weight increased by 36 kilograms for Le Mans. The Ferrari 499P LMH will be 24 kilograms heavier than before, while the Cadillac V-Series.R and the Porsche 963 LMDh will weigh eleven and three kilograms more, respectively.

An unchanged BoP applies to the Peugeot 9X8 LMH, the Glickenhaus 007 and the Vanwall Vandervell 680 LMH without hybrid drive.

The full text of the FIA/ACO statement reads: “The first races of the 2023 WEC season have shown that the differences between the individual LMH cars competing in the hypercar class are greater than originally thought.”

“In light of these factors and after an in-depth analysis of the available data, the WEC committee has decided that the objective of ensuring a level playing field in the hypercar class is best achieved through a correction between, but also within, the LMH and LMDh platforms is achieved.”

BoP actually carved in stone up to and including Le Mans …

The BoP has been set in stone for the first four races of the 2023 WEC season up to and including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, during which time only one change in balance between LMH and LMDh cars – known as Platform BoP – is allowed.

There has been confusion as to when this can happen under the (not publicly viewable) agreement. However, it was clarified that a change in the BoP for individual vehicles that were built according to the two different sets of rules for hypercars (LMH and LMDh) is only possible after the 24h Le Mans.

It is understood that ACO President Pierre Fillon and Richard Mille, the head of the FIA’s Endurance Commission, made the decision to make changes ahead of the 100th edition of the 24h Le Mans, which go beyond the scope of recent BoP guidelines.

Despite reaction from Toyota

The only comment so far from one of the hypercar manufacturers is a tweet from Toyota driver and team boss Kamui Kobayashi: He writes: “The additional 36 kilograms means a loss of 1.2 seconds per lap. That’s a lot , very painful change.”

“But we have no choice but to win. It’s the only proof that we’ve built a good car. To all engineers: I’m sorry that we lack the performance. But even in this difficult situation we should build a good car and win!” said Kobayashi.