Next year, LMP2 racing will be very different from what it has been in recent times. With the FIA and ACO adopting a new spec platform, only four manufacturers have been chosen as approved LMP2 chassis suppliers – Oreca, Ligier, Dallara, and Riley/Multimatic. All four platforms will be powered by a 4.2L naturally aspirated V8 supplied by Gibson capable of 600hp, and are tightly regulated by new 2017 specifications.
The Americans have decided that manufacturer branding is important enough for IMSA to develop their own variation of the 2017 spec LMP2 formula, called Daytona Prototype international (DPi). New DPi machinery will have much more flexibility for engine manufacturers to express their wild side, just as Mazda and Cadillac have already done this year.
For many new fans of sports car racing, LMP2 prototypes (along with the top tier LMP1 machines) have been relatively difficult to tell apart from one another. Well, this year Oreca, Onroak, Dallara, and Riley have provided platforms of variance for those fans who recognize that variety is the spice of life in sports car racing.
Slipstream Network breaks down the contenders of the future of sports car racing for the FIA spec machines with a DPi counterpart to come soon.
A Common Heart: The Gibson GK428
At the tail end of 2015, it was announced that Gibson would be the sole supplier of engines for the new generation of LMP2. The GK428 was finally revealed earlier this year and has already been delivered to manufacturers (now teams) for testing purposes. The 4.2L naturally aspirated 90-degree DOHC V8 will be used from 2017 through 2020, according to current plans.
Engine Labs reports that the engine was designed to keep costs low, forgoing direct injection that many race (and road-going) engines feature today. The design of the GK428 takes inspiration from the earlier 3.4L V8 used in P2 machinery. The engine is rated at 600 hp and has been reported to have great high-end torque. Look for this engine to help increase P2 speeds to all new levels!
The Reigning Champs: Oreca
The first of two French manufacturers, Oreca debuts the Oreca 07 for the 2017 season. The 07 seeks to continue the strong legacy its predecessor, the Oreca 05, recently started. The 05 was responsible for 67 percent of LMP2 race wins in the European Le Mans Series I’m 2016. Take that a step further in the FIA World Endurance Championship and Oreca’s seven wins of nine rounds last year seems hard to beat.
Though an evolutionary link between the 05 and 07 exists, the 07 looks far and above more slender and agile than it’s older, more angular brethren.
Refinement to the nose and rear quarter sections of Oreca’s proven platform are some of the most obvious areas of change. A more rounded, smooth front-end seeks to manage front air-flow and provide an adequate amount of downforce. The bodywork just ahead of the rear wheels looks to be a very interesting geometry. Arches that seems to slope inward suggest gradual changes in direction in an attempt to manage air over the rear of the car.
The Oreca 07’s sleek bodywork certainly looks able to one-up its previous generation as the manufacture aims to remain in control of its LMP2 success.
The Americans: Riley Multimatic
The Riley Multimatic Mk. 30 represents North America as a joint effort between the American and Canadian organizations. The Mk. 30 was the last LMp2 challenger to break cover and was revealed as Visit Florida Racing took delivery of their car this weekend.
The flowing curves of the Mk. 30 hint at efficient management of the airstream. The pointed, yet rounded nose does look a little similar to the front of the Oreca, but many other details are proprietary solutions to the challenge. One of the solutions that are most apparent, massive dive planes reach forward like palm leaves just below the headlights.
Another interesting feature of the Mk. 30 is the open front fascia allowing for the flow of air presumably into the body of the car under the nose and into two grated ducts on the leading edge.
Multimatic has most recently played a large part in the development and production of the Ford GT and knows how to create a great race car. On the flip side, who would bet against Bob and Bill Riley’s prototype expertise? This tag-team effort is sure to be one to watch on the American and World stages.
Big Wins: Onroak Ligier
Long has it been since Ligier has been competing at the Formula 1 levels of motorsport, but plenty of success has been had in the LMP2 category in recent years.
The previous generation Ligier JS P2 looked to be on track to a winning sweep of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup for the French manufacturer and parent company, Onroak Automotive. Tequila Patron ESM earned back to back wins at Daytona and Sebring, giving two of the most important trophies in the sport to the Ligier name before having issues at Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.
The 2017-spec Ligier JS P217 is probably the most unique looking race car of the bunch with aggressive front fascia modeling and trademark dual “tusk” uprights beneath the nose.
Onroak focused on a number of aspects of development for the JS P217 in order to keep running costs manageable for privateer teams. They aimed to reduce the total number of bodywork pieces, increase aerodynamic efficiency, redesign wheels, axles, and wheel nuts for faster pit stops, and improve cooling to the engine, brakes, and driver. Look for the Ligier to be aiming at more big wins in 2017.
Italian Stallion: Dallara
Dallara’s history in sports car racing is one of great successes. The brand’s largest business today is supplying open wheel race cars, most notably to the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2003. Building on the foundation of some of the most successful sports cars in history, Dallara will be looking for mainstream global sports car success next year.
Debuting just before the Cadillac DPi-V.R by the hands of Racing Team Nederland, the Dallara P217 is the fourth and final take on the FIA’s formula for privateer sports car racing. With Oreca and Ligier providing evolutionary solutions to LMP2 and Riley/Multimatic having developed LMP3 and near-prototype GT cars, Dallara will probably have the steepest learning curve of any of the current P2 manufacturers. That’s not to say their experience with developing famous cars such as the Ferrari 333, Audi R8 Spyder, or the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP suggests they’ll be hard pressed to find success, but the P217 will be developed entirely from scratch.
The slab-side flanks on the P217 have been a popular design feature among recent prototype manufacturers. Many will be quick to find many similarities between the Dallara-based DPi-V.R and base P217, similarities that may come in handy against the competition.
Race fans have plenty to get excited about in global LMP2 racing and North American prototype racing. It’s going to be an all-out global war between Oreca, Onroak, Dallara, and Riley Multimatic. With many teams already vying for one option over another, only time will tell which design will reign supreme and force balance regulations from the ACO/FIA and IMSA for the ELMS, WEC, and WeatherTech Championship, respectively.
Featured Image: Oreca – © Alexis Goure, Ligier, Racing Team Nederland, Visit Florida Racing