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The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has announced a number of rule changes for the 2014 race that open up the options for LMP1 racers and guide their technology closer to that of road cars, and that should also give fans even better racing than we're used to seeing. Probably biggest of all is loosening the restraints on engine design. Currently, gas engines are limited in size to 3.4 liters, while diesel displacement can be no more than 3.7 liters, with further turbocharger, supercharger and air restrictor regulation on top of that. Those are all gone – "The limitations of cylinders, restrictors and turbo pressures are removed."

Before you get ideas of this turning into a Group B for Le Mans, the cars will be limited to an "energy allotment" per lap. A fuel meter will allow a diesel-powered car 3.99 liters per lap, a gas-powered car would get 4.95 liters per lap, from tanks that are about 12 percent smaller.

All LMP1 cars will be required to have closed cockpits, within which the driver will sit a little further forward and slightly higher to provide more visibility and, it is hoped, cut down on accidents when lapping slower traffic. Weights have been reduced, from the current minimum weight of 900 kilograms to 830 kg for non-hybrids and 850 kg for hybrids, and according to the Speed TV report, "all factory entries will be required to compete with hybrid systems." The cars will also be thinnner. Another factory handicap (depending on how see it) is that "super-exotic materials" will be banned in order to force carmakers to use materials that apply to their mainstream vehicles and not just their supercars.

The ACO believes these new rules will "encourage the development of powerful and spectacular cars and also the development of technologies that have real meaning for the everyday motorist." Sounds good to us.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      RWD
      • 2 Years Ago
      Limit the fuel, not the specs... that's more like it! This is a great idea, should lead to some very interesting racing!
      k_m94
      • 2 Years Ago
      Fuel use restriction overruling engine restrictions: Great news! If only this could eventually apply to GTE and LMP2 cars as well. But we are going to see the creative minds of powertrain engineers cranked up to the max in order to make an engine as efficient, powerful, and reliable as they can, without simply building to a rule set and spending millions trying to find loopholes. Theoretically, if a team found a way to make a 1000hp engine that gets under 4 or 5 liters consumption per lap, then we would see some monstrous crowd thrilling performance. Is the fuel/lap limit an average, actually restricted for every lap, or just a limited amount of fuel available at the pitstop? Because if you are allowed to go under and over the limit per lap, you could have a 2 mode engine that goes low power/consumption during steady pace and full strength fuel guzzler when gaining lost ground or battling a hard opponent. If engineers feel like it, we can see V10s, V12s, bigger V8s see if they can still battle against lower displacement turbo petrols and diesels with economy taking precedence over power. If one tech reigns superior over another, without handicaps and restrictors, then racing will evolve, rather than just conform. Less weight, less width: Seeing that a lighter car is faster and more efficient with the same engine, this will just accentuate the performance and economy improvements. It seems that the extra 20kg carried by the hybrids wont come close to negating the extra 100-200hp they can access on demand coming out of corners, and of course they would automatically get better economy allowing them even more performance. Sucks a bit with the cars being narrower, but I doubt the reduced track and downforce/venting surface area would do anything besides forcing more creative packaging. Speaking of packaging, moving the driver layout to improve visibility is a very good idea! At least half of the P1/GTE crashes would be reduced, as the "I couldn't see him!" excuse wont cut it. As for the dive bombing into each other through corners, at least the fixed roofs have great safety. Mandated hybrids for factory teams: I'm unsure about this. Sure, Audi's R18 E-Tron hybrids managed to outdo their diesel only Ultras, but factories would have to rely solely on the fact that their new technology lasts without the option for "failsafe" backup cars running conventional tech. At least these hybrid systems are 1000 times more exciting than dreary, battery laden street hybrids, with fancy, lighter stuff like flywheels and capacitators. Looks like private teams, given the option and lack of resources, would stick with nonhybrid tech, and thus usher in a new battle: not petrol vs diesel, but hybrid vs non hybrid. I have a feeling that unless heavily restricted, hybrid would show dominance much like diesel does today. Banning "super exotic materials": Like what? Rare metal alloys used on exhausts? Gold engine plating? Titanium? Magnesium? Carbon fiber shoud be safe.
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @k_m94
        It's always special when you breach the 3000 character limit with an essay length comment you wont even really hear of again, on a car blog full of downvote happy anonymous lurkers and "opinionated" commenters. Please don't ignore this, it took me a while to type out on my laggy iPod.
        George
        • 2 Years Ago
        @k_m94
        Makes the Delta Wing look like a real pioneer. . .
      Cain Gray
      • 2 Years Ago
      BRING BACK THE ROTARY! I would love to see Mazda win this again with a modern 787B.
      Smiley
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's definitely a step in the right direction. I for one would like to see a return to the glory days of GT1, GT2. Homoligation! If they race it, they have to build a handful (usually 25) of road going versions. Then the poseur supercars can move out of the way and let the big boys come through. I always loved seeing a super wide super low super race car that still had street car styling cues, like the 911 GT1 or CLK GTR. Bring them back!
      Justin
      • 2 Years Ago
      What happens if a car uses more than their allotted fuel in a lap? The EPA comes in and shuts em down?
      PatrickH
      • 2 Years Ago
      All race cars required to be hybrid? That's lame as hell.
      IOMTT
      • 2 Years Ago
      Get rid of the chicanes along Mulsanne. Forget the fuel mileage regs. Cars used to hit 250 mph here over 40 years ago, so forgive me if I am unable to get excited by this news. I would rather watch the movie "LeMans" the way things are going.
        Chayil
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IOMTT
        I agree about removing the chicanes. I hate them. I understand why they were put in after the high flying Mercedes, but they ruin the race. At least get rid of the second one.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Chayil
          [blocked]
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IOMTT
        With the current gearing and downforce on these cars, the Mulsanne would be less fun chicaneless. Imagine hitting your 220mph top speed and just sitting there for another mile or so. And if they were designed for top speed, acceleration and cornering speeds would be worse everywhere else on Le Sarthe. I think with the economy and safety concerns, just enjoy them hitting 210mph 3 times as opposed to 250 once. Of course it would be more exciting with no two ***** given for fuel economy, the ecological (reputation), and keeping the driver from killing himself, but this is just how racing evolves with the times. 250 mph is not even that special any more, a Veyron roadcar can do 260+ now, yet would get lapped by a bottom rung GTE car until it broke something expensive trying to repeatedly corner 4400lb on street parts. You want 250mph "racing"? Go to the Texas Mile and you might be lucky enough to see one go that fast without catching a crosswind. Or watch Le Mans the movie.
          Jonathan Arena
          • 2 Years Ago
          @k_m94
          Totally dissagree. The trade-off between downforce and top speed is something that the teams should just have to figure out. Besides- cars that rely heavily on aero for grip are difficult to handle near other cars... limiting passing.
      Carbon Fibre
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good that they are closing cockpits. Saw couple of open wheeled LMP1's and was like... why do you think this is F1? The safety in Le Mans is a little lower than that of F1 environment so I don't understand the openness of these posers, very dangerous.
        Chayil
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carbon Fibre
        Umm, you are aware of the fact that Audi used an open cockpit design on the R8, R10 and R15 aren't you? They went to a closed cockpit due to changes in regulations as well as tidier aerodynamic efficiency. I fail to see how running an open cockpit design is beign a poseur. How long have you been following LeMans?
      Jonathan Arena
      • 2 Years Ago
      Everything sounds good EXCEPT for the requirement for it to be a hybrid. Lame. Let the technology speak for itself.
        AnthonyL
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Arena
        It did speak for itself: Audi 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
          Jonathan Arena
          • 2 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          Unfortunately it's not that simple. The regulations favored hybrid systems. Also, half the Audi's were not hybrids, dude.
      INCREDIBLE ONE
      • 2 Years Ago
      WOW i thought the ACO rules couldn't get more screwed up. But i was wrong. All this is going to do is to INCREASE COST YET AGAIN. The ACO rules are already so out of control no series outside of LeMans can run the rules due to cost.
      Chayil
      • 2 Years Ago
      I suppose an energy allotment might be the best thing to bring equity to the teams. Audi went with diesel technology because of its superior fuel efficiency. However, if diesels only get 3.99 liters per lap while gas engines get 4.95 liters per lap, might we see a move away from diesels? I do support reducing weight and slimming the cars down. Hopefully, this will encourage more manufacturers to enter the fray.
        dondonel
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Chayil
        3.99 liters of diesel fuel have them same energy content as 4.95 liters of gasoline. This is fairness. I applaud these changes.
          Cory Stansbury
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dondonel
          I have never found this to be correct. According to wiki (and backed up by other things I have read), Gasoline actually has slightly more energy than diesel per kg and slightly less energy per liter (34 vs. 36.4 Mj/liter). My guess is the number is based on an estimated max BMEP attainable on each fuel (and it's corresponding effect on maximum theoretical thermal efficiency) coupled with the above numbers.
          Chayil
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dondonel
          While you may applaud these changes, remember that Audi took a gamble in going with diesel at a time when nobody else seem interested. People were actually shocked at the move. Peugeot stepped up to the plate and took on Audi and actually beat them once. So, the question begs to be asked:: Why haven't other teams developed diesel powerplants instead of plodding along with gasoline engines?
        Cory Stansbury
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Chayil
        There is an excellent interview with Ulrich Baretzky from Audi where he actual indicates he'd love to do a crack at gasoline again. He wants to apply some of the technology they've developed with the diesels back to gasoline, as he feels the rules are starting to favor gasoline again. He very much feels that if the right competitor comes along, they could lose by sticking the diesel. Now I really don't like Toyota, but I certainly feel an Oreca-backed effort from them could do that with some better luck and more maturity. Here is the interview. Worth your time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TAhWdVU3M4
          Chayil
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Cory Stansbury
          Interesting. Thanks for the link!
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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