Toyota calls for LMP2s to be slowed further after topping Prologue test

Toyota has called for LMP2 prototypes to be slowed after its new Le Mans Hypercar was outpaced during official testing for Saturday's World Endurance Championship opener at Spa.

Toyota calls for LMP2s to be slowed further after topping Prologue test

The balance between the cars competing in the new-for-2021 Hypercar category and LMP2 needs to be "reviewed", according to Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon. 

Asked if he would be seeking changes in the wake of the two-day test, in which the best of the Toyotas GR010 Hybrids ended up half a second off Nyck de Vries' pace in an Aurus-badged ORECA LMP2 fielded by G-Drive Racing, Vasselon replied: "I would think there is no choice. I don't think it was the target to have this kind of stratification."

That is a reference to the reduced performance target for LMH cars in comparison with the outgoing LMP1 machinery. 

The class was devised to raise lap times on a regular WEC circuit by five seconds, which meant LMP2s had to be slowed to put them behind the new cars running in the top class of the series.

The pace of the Toyotas over the course of the Prologue was in line with those projections, said Vasselon.

He insisted that the balance between Hypercar and LMP2 remained a work in progress after further changes for the secondary prototype division were announced at the start of April. 

The original plan to slow the LMP2s involved cutting horsepower by 30kW or 40bhp and running on harder tyres from Goodyear, the one-make supplier for the class.

The LMP2s were subsequently given a further power reduction of 20kW or 25bhp and an increase in minimum weight from 930 to 950kg, while it was also mandated that the cars would have to run in low-downforce Le Mans 24 Hours specification at all WEC races. 

"It clearly was not the target to have LMP2 running faster than the Hypercar category," explained Vasselon. "I am trying to put forward that there was a clear will to correct that; it is just that the correction has to be reviewed."

#26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 02 - Gibson: Roman Rusinov, Franco Colapinto, Nyck de Vries

#26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 02 - Gibson: Roman Rusinov, Franco Colapinto, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Vasselon did not offer suggestions as to what could be done to slow the LMP2s nor whether there was time to do anything ahead of this weekend's race in Belgium. 

"It is typically a question for the Automobile de l'Ouest and the FIA [who set the rules for the WEC]; I cannot answer this question," he said. 

He did, however, say that it would be difficult to boost the performance of the GR010s. Allowing the Toyota more power under the Balance of Performance regulations would not be possible for this weekend, he stated. 

"There may be the possibility to run with more power, but we did not validate this level of power," he explained. "We could probably do more but then we would be in unknown territory: it is not something we would apply in the very short term." 

Vasselon did concede, however, that the characteristics of the Spa circuit could make it an "outlier" in terms of the impact of the introduction of low-downforce aero in LMP2. 

"It was expected that this move to the low-downforce package would increase the gap; it is possible that at Spa it doesn't do as much as expected," he said.

De Vries, who is Toyota's reserve driver, topped the Prologue times with a 2m04.168s set in Tuesday morning's session.

That compared with Sebastien Buemi's 2m04.669s in the #8 Toyota, which ended up fourth overall behind three LMP2s as the best Hypercar in the combined times.

LMP2 cars were quickest in three of the four Prologue sessions before Buemi set his mark on a low-fuel run at the end of the final session.

The grandfathered Alpine A480 LMP1 car, which is competing in the Hypercar class in down-specced form this year, ended up with a best time of 2m05.230s set by Matthieu Vaxiviere.

It is the only car competing against the Toyotas in the WEC's top class at Spa in the absence of the Glickenhaus team.

shares
comments

Related video

WEC Prologue: Toyota tops final session, but slower than LMP2 best

Previous article

WEC Prologue: Toyota tops final session, but slower than LMP2 best

Next article

Slowing LMP2s further could create more problems, say WEC drivers

Slowing LMP2s further could create more problems, say WEC drivers
Load comments

About this article

Series WEC
Event Prologue
Teams Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC
Author Gary Watkins
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Plus

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

OPINION: Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Plus

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory

WEC
May 4, 2021
Seven things to watch in the 2021 World Endurance Championship Plus

Seven things to watch in the 2021 World Endurance Championship

Beyond the slender grid of headline-grabbing hypercars, there are numerous subplots and changes to look out for in the new season of the WEC, which gets underway at Spa this weekend. Here's the seven key things you need to know about

WEC
Apr 30, 2021
What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era Plus

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

A slim field of three cars will be entered in the Hypercar class for the first round of the World Endurance Championship's post-LMP1 age. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism with the new wave of manufacturer entries and competing class philosophies just around the corner

WEC
Apr 29, 2021
How Aston Martin Racing scaled new heights in the Prodrive era Plus

How Aston Martin Racing scaled new heights in the Prodrive era

The 2021 World Endurance Championship kicks off at Spa this weekend, but for the first time since its 2012 inception there will be no works Aston Martins in the GTE-Pro class. As its new era in Formula 1 begins, Aston leaves behind a legacy of success courtesy of its Prodrive-run factory programme that was a hit from the word go in 2005

WEC
Apr 27, 2021
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Plus

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

WEC
Mar 16, 2021
Top 10 moments of an underrated British great Plus

Top 10 moments of an underrated British great

Brian Redman was one of the best sportscar drivers of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a three-time champion on the fearsome American Formula 5000 scene. To celebrate his 84th birthday Autosport contacted him about his best races – and he decided to write the piece himself…

WEC
Mar 9, 2021
How an endurance racing boom could help one of LMP2's top teams Plus

How an endurance racing boom could help one of LMP2's top teams

The G-Drive squad has been a mainstay of endurance racing in recent years, and has linked up with Russian manufacturer Aurus in recent years to promote its brand. With a change of rules in endurance racing's top tables, the team could be well-placed to take advantage of a potential boom...

WEC
Mar 7, 2021