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WEC to drop LMP2 class from 2024

The World Endurance Championship has officially announced the LMP2 class will no longer feature on the grid in 2024 as it moves to a two-class structure.

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson of Joshua Pierson, Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis

Only Hypercars and LMGT3 machinery will be eligible to enter the WEC next season, with the long-standing LMP2 class a casualty of growing demand for grid slots in the rejuvenated top category.

The impending arrival of Lamborghini, BMW and Alpine in the top class for 2024, as well as boutique marque Isotta Fraschini, is expected to result in a top-class entry of up to 20 cars next season, with the full entry currently standing at 38 cars.

However, series organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced during its official press conference on Friday morning that a “minimum” of 15 slots on the grid will be reserved for the category for the Le Mans 24 Hours, as first signalled last December.

ACO president Pierre Fillon commented: "It is a very important category for us, but we have to make decisions. That's why there will be at least 15 places for LMP2 cars at Le Mans."

WEC boss Frederic Lequien added that the move will mean more places on the grid at Le Mans for LMP2 cars racing in the European Le Mans Series.

"It is important to say that it is not that we don't care about LMP2," he said. "It will also remain the top class of the European and Asian Le Mans Series."

It has yet to be established how many grid slots will be reserved by the WEC for LMGT3 cars, but it was confirmed that manufacturers currently involved in the Hypercar class will be given priority. Manufacturers will be assigned two grid slots each.

#35 Alpine Elf Team Oreca 07 - Gibson of Andre Negrao, Olli Caldwell, Memo Rojas

#35 Alpine Elf Team Oreca 07 - Gibson of Andre Negrao, Olli Caldwell, Memo Rojas

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

LMP2 had been a mainstay of the WEC since its rebirth in 2012, with the category having its roots in the LMP675 class that was established by the ACO back in 2000.

It was originally intended to be a low-cost way for manufacturers to fight the heavier, more powerful LMP900s (which later became LMP1) for overall victories at Le Mans, but it quickly became the sole preserve of privateer teams.

The nature of the LMP2 category changed in 2017 when the class was restricted to four licensed chassis-builders: ORECA, Ligier, Dallara and Multimatic/Riley.

These are the same four companies that will build the next-generation LMP2 cars that are due to come on stream in 2026, and on which the LMDh cars racing alongside the Le Mans Hypercars in the top category are based.

ORECA has a de facto monopoly on the LMP2 class in the WEC, with no other chassis builder having been represented on the grid since the early rounds of the 2021 season.

As well as remaining the headline attraction for both the European and Asian Le Mans Series, LMP2 cars will also remain eligible the IMSA SportsCar Championship alongside LMDh and GT3 machinery.

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson of Joshua Pierson, Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson of Joshua Pierson, Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Drivers lament demise of LMP2

The loss of LMP2 from the WEC has been described as a “real shame” by Oliver Jarvis, who races in the secondary prototype category for United Autosports and was part of the JOTA crew that finished second overall at Le Mans in 2017.

“On the one hand I understand it,” the Briton told Autosport. “Hypercar is going from strength to strength. There’s incredible interest from manufacturers and then with the introduction of GT3, LMP2 just doesn’t fit from a pure numbers point of view.

“But when you actually think that at one stage there was literally Toyota and maybe one or two other Hypercars, LMP2 has almost been the backbone for many years.

“All of these P2 cars have got to go somewhere, so does that mean we get bigger Asian Le Mans, bigger European Le Mans, does it mean that IMSA gets a bolstered P2 grid? I hope so, because for the price and the budget, I don’t think there’s a better class out there at the moment.”

WRT driver Louis Deletraz offered similar sentiments, pointing out the lap times the ORECA 07 was capable of before being slowed down following the arrival of the slower Hypercars.

#31 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson of Sean Gelael, Ferdinand Habsburg, Robin Frijns, #41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson of Rui Andrade, Louis Deletraz, Robert Kubica

#31 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson of Sean Gelael, Ferdinand Habsburg, Robin Frijns, #41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson of Rui Andrade, Louis Deletraz, Robert Kubica

Photo by: Marc Fleury

“If you just look back in time a bit, this ORECA 07 can do a 3m24s here, which is as quick as a Hypercar,” the Swiss driver told Autosport. “But we’ve been slowed down which obviously makes sense because of the new Hypercars.

“I’m good friends with [ORECA boss] Hugues de Chaunac now and I have to say hats off, this car is fantastic, it has given a lot of opportunities to young drivers, created careers, brought people to Hypercar.

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“I started in ’21 and without this LMP2 category in both ELMS and WEC I wouldn’t be where I am now, able to be in factory drives and running in the top class.

"There will still be ELMS [where LMP2 cars can race] and hopefully it will still provide young drivers opportunities and teams to learn for Hypercar.”

Additional reporting by James Newbold

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