Rules & Regulations
And Their Implementation
Here’s a double
irony to consider:
At the end of this, the
first week of December, Dr. Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin commented:
"We are keen to see new regulations for 2004 that will allow
true production-based sports cars to compete on a level playing
field. The new rules from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO)
clearly provide this; we hope other sporting organisations will
follow their route and encourage sports car racing to grow in importance
During the same
week, Zytek has announced that it is constructing two new Zytek
02S Evo lls (the formerly named DBA etc. chassis design, the 2002
675 car that has run so well in John Nielsen’s charge), for
two new customers. What good value they are too, at £320,000
During the same week,
the ACO has also released its 2004 Technical Regulations for prototypes
(see a news item dated yesterday, December 3), with this interesting
“Cars built before
01/01/2004 and completely complying with the ACO technical regulations
for LMP and LM GTP cars above, are admitted until 31/12/2005.
However, the ACO wish to ensure the competitiveness of the cars
built in compliance with the 2004 ACO technical regulations for
Prototype. Consequently, the ACO, in addition to the measures already
applied and after the first results of the new cars in racing conditions,
will enforce in 2005 for the car built before 01/01/2004 a part
or all the following modifications :
- Minimum weight : 950 kg (LMP900), 720 kg (LMP675) ;
- Addition of a skid block : thickness 10 mm ;
- Reduction of the restrictor area by 5% ;
If necessary, additional measures could be applied.“
So, had we missed something
(while in Australia for two weeks)? Were the last four lines (above),
something that those really ‘in the know’ already knew
about? No, they definitely weren’t.
Based on enquiries during
the last 24 hours (since exploring the new Prototype Regulations),
it would appear that the fourth line, above, is the really unsettling
one. The 45 (675) and 50 (900) kilo penalties, the skid block and
smaller restrictors – OK, they are definite statements, something
current runners can possibly accept and ‘live with’.
But the last line – that seems to be the one that is creating
yet more uncertainty in the prototype market.
Let’s add another
irony: it was earlier today that we posted a likely list of 20 or
so prototypes that will make up the front of the LMES grids in 2004.
Despite all of the above, the organising club will probably be patting
itself on its collective back for the success of its ‘vision’.
But the reality is that
the uncertainty that still abounds is holding back any movement
in LMP1 and LMP2 construction. “Additional measures could
be applied” to slow down the current cars (even more) in relation
to ….. what? We still have no evidence that anyone has so
far laid down one piece of carbon fibre of an LMP1 or 2, and in
fact, as Zytek has shown, the current activity is still in relation
to sales of existing designs.
What are recent buyers
of 2001-2-3 cars supposed to think when the chassis they have just
bought now only have one year of racing ahead of them, before penalties
(specified and unspecified) start to apply? What about current entrants
who have been developing cars with such fervour, on the understanding
that they still had a two year life ahead of them?
Early December was anyway
very late for the release of the 2004 Regulations, rules governing
an area of sportscar racing that was already “reeling with
On a positive note, it
can be argued that 2004 will now see a degree of stability –
if only because it’s too late for new cars to be produced
(certainly until mid-season, at the earliest). Perhaps that last
line (above) will see potential buyers gathering together to persuade
prototype manufacturers to build new chassis for 2005?
But the real irony is
that all the prototype customer interest that the LMES has created
will simply lead to large European grids of 2003 (and older) cars,
and no new ones.