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WEC's tyre warmer ban may be lifted at Le Mans again in 2024

The ban on tyre warmers in the World Endurance Championship could be lifted for a second time for the Le Mans 24 Hours next year.

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

JEP / Motorsport Images

WEC boss Frederic Lequien has revealed that the prohibition on pre-heating tyres in the pits before they are put on the car is under review on safety grounds for the double-points round of the series in June.

It follows the reversal of the ban introduced for environmental reasons at the start of 2023 season on a one-off basis for Le Mans this year after a spate of accidents involving cars leaving the pits on cold tyres at the previous round of the series at Spa in April.

“For the moment the decision is not taken for Le Mans,” Lequien said.

“We need to discuss again and again to make sure it is doable.”

Lequien explained that there were multiple factors why tyre warmers might be allowed for Le Mans, despite the ban being in place for the rest of the eight-race WEC schedule.

“Le Mans is very specific because of the differentials in temperature [between day and night], also the different categories and also the differences in driver skill,” he said.

“When you exit the pitlane at three in the night and the temperatures are quite low, it is doable, but the drivers need to adapt to this, and for this we need time.”

He also pointed out that the Le Mans grid next year will incorporate three classes rather than the two of the rest of the schedule when LMP2 returns following its removal from the full championship.

This will exacerbate problems caused by the speed differentials between the classes, which would be further increased when a car leaving the pits on tyres that haven't been pre-heated is approached by a car already up to speed on warm rubber.

#9 Prema Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson of Bent Viscaal, Juan Manuel Correa, Filip Ugran

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#9 Prema Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson of Bent Viscaal, Juan Manuel Correa, Filip Ugran

Lequien stressed that there were no plans to reintroduce the pre-heating of tyres for other rounds of the championship.

“I can tell you for the rest of the season, we will remove the tyre warmers, no question,” he said.

The sporting regulations for the 2024 WEC have already been published, which forbid the ”use of any thermal or heat retention device”.

Because of the specific nature of Le Mans and the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe, the 24 Hours has its own set of supplementary regulations covering sporting matters.

These have yet to be published for 2024 and are typically released in November or December.

The new rule on tyre heating proved controversial from the outset at the start of 2023, with drivers pointing out the dangers of leaving the pits on cold rubber.

It was implicated in James Calado’s accident in the new Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercar during the pre-season Prologue test at Sebring in March.

The British driver questioned the rule change, making prescient comments about what might happen when the WEC arrived in Spa in April.

“Can you imagine coming out of the pits at Spa and heading into Eau Rouge when it's 5deg C?” he said.

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Photo by: Porsche

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Brendon Hartley crashed his Toyota GR010 HYBRID LMH at Raidillon on his out lap in qualifying for the Belgian event and then Antonio Fuoco went off straight out of the pits in his Ferrari 499P on cold tyres during the race.

It was announced in May that the tyre warmers, typically ovens placed at the back of each team’s pit, would be allowed for the centenary running of Le Mans.

Race organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest stated that it wanted to ensure that “drivers of all experience levels will be able to compete in the safest possible environment regardless of track conditions and temperatures”.

It added that the move would give the rubber suppliers (Michelin and Goodyear), teams and drivers "valuable time to develop better understanding of how to bring cold tyres up to temperature ahead of the remainder of the 2023 WEC season”.

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