The Automobile Club de L'Ouest (ACO), which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, announced some new technical regulations this week that mirror what has been happening in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). For 2011, the ACO will consolidate the current LMP1 and LMP2 prototype classes into a single group based around the current P2 rule set. All of the prototypes will now be limited to smaller 3.4-liter normally aspirated or 2.0-liter turbocharged engines regardless of whether they burn gasoline or diesel fuel. Similarly, the shrinking GT1 class will be eliminated next year in favor of the closer-to-production GT2 cars.
The big news is that hybrid systems will now be allowed in all Le Mans series events. In 2009, Corsa Motorosports debuted an LMP1 car with a Zytek gas-electric powertrain in ALMS. ALMS allowed the car to initially run without any limits on electrical energy while they evaluated the performance. Under the new ACO rules, teams will be able to run hybrid/kinetic energy recovery systems that are connected to at most two wheels with a maximum of 500 joules of energy storage. We're not sure what the energy storage capacity of the Porsche 911 GT3R hybrid is, but it clearly demonstrated the advantage of being able to use electricity to boost acceleration while saving fuel during its recent run in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
ALMS officials are in France right now for this weekend's race, but we assume that the North American series will adopt most of the ACO rules for 2011.