Le Mans 24 Hours and WEC organisers open door for hydrogen in LMP1

Hydrogen-powered LMP1 cars will be allowed at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the World Endurance Championship in the future

Le Mans 24 Hours and WEC organisers open door for hydrogen in LMP1

The FIA and the Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest have announced they have set up a working group with the aim of allowing cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells to compete.

No timescale for their introduction has been laid down, but the hope is that a date could be announced this time next year.

ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil told Autosport: "Hydrogen is clearly a direction we want to follow in the future.

"It has advantages in terms of zero emissions, performance, autonomy [the distance a car can travel on an amount of fuel] and short-loading time.

"This is why we have set up the working group, but we know that the introduction of hydrogen is complex problem to solve."

Beaumesnil confirmed that there were manufacturers interested in using hydrogen, but refused to reveal their identity.

BMW is known to have evaluated a Le Mans entry with a hydrogen fuel cell car, possibly in the 'Innovative Car' slot on the grid that was taken by Nissan in 2012 and '14 when it was known as 'Garage 56'.

A Garage 56 entry with a hydrogen car from the Swiss GreenGT organisation for 2013 failed to materialise.

Bio fuels will be allowed in the new-for-2018 P1 rule book.

Beaumensil explained that there was a desire "to go further with zero-carbon energies" and that they could easily be incorporated in the Equivalence of Technology alongside petrol and diesel.

"We know that biomethane has huge potential, but any liquid or gas that is of bio-mass origin will be eligible," he said.

"What we are saying to any manufacturer who is interested is that we can incorporate your fuel into the EoT."

The Innovative Car entry for 2017 was given last year to long-time Le Mans entrant Gerard Welter for a biomethane-powered car.

Beaumesnil confirmed that the project was ongoing, but that the team was still seeking partners.

The ACO and the FIA confirmed that a new hybrid LMP1 sub-class allowing for 10 megajoules of retrieved energy to be deployed at Le Mans will be allowed for 2018.

This will go hand in hand with an increase in the number of energy-retrieval systems allowed from two to three.

There will also be a reduction in the amount of conventional fuel allowed to the LMP1 factories of approximately 8%.

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