LMP2 on way up in 2012
No class in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron looks to grow more in 2012 than LMP2. As a new season continues to rapidly approach, new entries into the category should make P2 one to watch throughout the year.
Why the interest? A large reason is a rules package that aims to be as cost-effective and stable to warrant investment from independent teams. The regulations from the Automobile Clue de l’Ouest – the rulesmaker for the 24 Hours of Le Mans – mandate that a P2 car cannot exceed 345,000 euros (just shy of $440,000 US) for a chassis with a cap of $75,000 for an engine.
“These cars have a cost structure that is fixed thanks to the rules,” said Black Swan Racing owner/driver Tim Pappas. “You don’t have to take them and spend thousands of dollars to develop them and become competitive. You could but that’s not what this class is about.”
There are a number of chassis suppliers – Lola, Oak Pescarolo and Riley chief among them – along with a considerable base of engine manufacturers such as Ford (Roush), HPD, Nissan and others.
The regulations and quantity (and quality) of manufacturers available is a large reason why defending class champion Level 5 Motorsports will have plenty of company in 2012. Pappas’ Black Swan team is stepping up to the class after winning the GT Challenge title the past two seasons. Conquest Endurance is moving over from IndyCar with an Oak Pescarolo, and Eric Bachelart’s team is taking that a step further as Oak’s importer and distributor for cars in the U.S.
"We're really looking forward to the competition in ALMS LMP2 in 2012,” said Level 5 owner/driver Scott Tucker, who shared the 2011 driver title with teammate Christophe Bouchut. “We were attracted to this class because it truly represents the pinnacle of sports car racing for a privateer team. With the addition of some great new teams for the upcoming year, I think you will see tremendous racing and a great championship battle. We're fortunate to have a great technical partner in Honda Performance Development and we have high expectations for the 2012 season."
There are other high-profile teams inside and outside the ALMS paddock that are taking a long look at P2 as well. Safe to say, business is picking up.
“Endurance racing is experiencing a lot of growth in the United States and the LMP2 category is poised to conquer a new place in the North American market,” Oak Racing principal Jacques Nicolet said. “A proof of this is the fact that teams like Conquest Endurance have decided to be a part of the ALMS.”
Added Pappas: “This class has come together nicely with a stable rules platform, cost caps and support from multiple manufacturers. LMP2 in the ALMS was an unbelievable class only a few years ago. Hopefully with such a stable platform and a Pro-Am combination can help guys like me – who don’t race full-time but have a passion for racing – contend for championships.”