24h Le Mans
08/02/2019 - 10:01

Interview: Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO Sporting Director, talks about the new-look LMP3 class

Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO Sports Director, answers our questions on the second-generation LMP3 class.
Interview: Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO Sporting Director, talks about the new-look LMP3 class

The sales price of an LMP3 car has risen. Why the price hike?

The next version of LMP3 is not more expensive. In fact, it is very cost-effective. Let’s look at the two possibilities: a team already competing in LMP3 and a new entrant, who has to buy a new car.

The team that already competes will be able to field a safer, more modern, better-performing car for an investment of €84,500 (chassis kit + engine + gearbox upgrade) over a five-year cycle, so an annual cost of €16,500.

In other disciplines, the regulations require a change of car every four or five years. We wanted to avoid that as it would have meant 170 unusable cars with each team forced to invest €239,000 to embark on a new five-year cycle. Instead, current teams can significantly upgrade their cars for an annual cost of €16,500. The kit seemed the obvious choice because all the manufacturers selected for phase 2 have already produced LMP3 cars.

For new arrivals, just compare the LMP3 offering (cost/performance) with disciplines with similar criteria. For example, in GT3, which has a worldwide following, the cars are three (on a standard circuit) to five (at Le Mans) seconds slower than an LMP3 for a purchase price of around €400,000 and, depending on model, unregulated costs for spare parts, which is not the case in LMP3. The only discipline that can match LMP3 in terms of cost is GT4 (€200,000 for an Audi R8 LMS GT4) but there is no comparison on a technical or performance level because GT4s are 10-15 seconds slower per lap.

Can you tell us a bit more about the services, the customer support and the technical passport? How much support do teams get when they field a car?

Each chassis manufacturer will provide customer support at every race run under the ACO banner. This is mandatory whenever a manufacturer has at least three cars entered in a race. There will be technical support and a spare parts service at the circuit so there is no need to block funds to store and transport parts (parts are invoiced 10% more at the circuits). Customer service costs €500 per race in Europe and €700 per race elsewhere at ACO races (ELMS, Asian LMS, Michelin Cup and Road to Le Mans). A system encouraging technical support may also be introduced at ACO-approved races on a case-by-case basis, to meet the specific requirements of each series. Powertrain customer service is subject to the same rules and rates.

The cost of these services is capped and regulated and will help teams make significant savings on certain expenses. Each car also benefits from an ACO technical passport which guarantees traceability and crucial personalised follow-up to ensure technical quality. This comes with a loyalty scheme where points are awarded for entry in a race: 2 points for an ACO race (ELMS, Asian LMS, Michelin Le Mans Cup and Road to Le Mans), and 1 point for an ACO-approved race (other series).

When a car attains 30 points, the legal entity or person that officially holds the technical passport is awarded €6,000. So LMP3 is not only competitive but there is a real incentive to take part.