If you watch the FIA WEC series, you’ll be familiar with LMP1 and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototypes). However, do you really know what makes the two classes different? Here’s our guide:
This category is currently split into two parts; the first for hybrid prototypes (LMP1-H), and the second is for non-hybrid machines (LMP1-L) reserved for privateers not associated with manufacturers.
Wheelbase sizes are free for teams to choose but do have maximum restrictions in length of 4650mm, width of between 1800mm and 1900mm and front and rear overhang limits. The bodywork must cover all mechanical elements of the cars and there is some scope for aero innovation.
All cars must be closed cockpit with roof, windscreen and doors (as you’d expect). The minimum weight of LMP1-H cars is 870kg, with a limit of 850kg for privateer, non-hybrid cars.
Fuel tanks are limited in size to 68.3 litres for petrol-powered cars and 54.2 litres for diesel machines – the non-hybrid car weights and fuel tank sizes can be adjusted though, to close the gap to the manufacturer teams like Porsche, Audi and Toyota.
In terms of engines, LMP1 cars are the most powerful in endurance racing. There are no limits on the number of cylinders, and engine displacement is free for hybrid cars, but limited to 5.5 litres for LMP1-L entries. The only other restriction is that only petrol and diesel four-stroke engines with reciprocating pistons are permitted.
With engines positioned in a variety of different places and a number of Energy Recovery System (ERS) versions on the grid, there’s an incredible amount of unique innovation in LMP1 with some mind-boggling technology.
The second tier of prototypes is for independent teams not involved with manufacturers or engine suppliers. Either open or closed cockpits are allowed – there is a mix on the current grid – and there must be a second seat (not for someone to sit in, rather as a means to hold electrical and cooling components.
Whereas more amateur level drivers are not allowed in LMP1, in LMP2 the crew of two or three must include at least one silver or bronze racer – those with less experience and success.
LMP2 cars are heavier than the faster category, with a minimum weight of 900kg. The maximum length remains the same but the width of the cars are a little wider at 2000mm. The wheelbase is free to choose and like the other class, the overhangs are limited.
Production-based petrol and diesel engines are allowed, with naturally aspirated engines limited to 5.0 litres and no more than eight cylinders. If the petrol engines are turbo or supercharged, their limits are 3.2 litres and six cylinders. The fuel tank is set at 75 litres.
With no hybrid components, the cars are not as technologically advanced as LMP1 and are quite a bit slower because of less downforce and power. However, the category is very competitive and often produces great racing, with more equally matched cars.