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Old 10 Apr 2020, 13:28 (Ref:3969782)   #1
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Drink The Decline and Fall of Constructors Prototype Racing

Protoype racing as we know it is finally coming to it's end, making it's way to full spec and bop regulations. The days of constructors, especially smaller scale ones, building their own cars and engines is no more, not in the way we used to know it. There are still cars titled "Le Mans Prototypes", but there's nothing Prototype about them any longer.

But how did it all start, how did we come here, what are the origins? Could this be it?
https://tentenths.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110027
It's an aspect that gets very little notion, but I've firmly started to believe that it was FLM/LMPC category that started the downhill trend for (privateer) constructors prototype racing, and ultimately finally destroyed it. In a little over a decade the legacy of LMPC, and more importantly Oreca and Hughes de Chaunac would have fingerprints all over the sportscar racing as we know it.

Of course, there had been numerous spec-series for prototypes before 2009, such as Radicals supporting the Le Mans Series, as well as quasi-spec formats as seen in the despised Daytona Prototype category - even the ones before DPG3. On paper, the Formula Le Mans concept didn't really look anything special: Oreca detuning old Courage LMP1 car and racing it in a little support series on it's own. ACO on the other hand was letting Oreca, a company that had supported them for years, to have little fun and side business, it all looked perfectly normal. There really wasn't anything to write home about. In fact, other than the support race at Le Mans 24 Hours in 2009, it is doubtful anyone even noticed these things existing. However, by 2010 they had silently been integrated to the Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series. Never before had there been a category in ACO main series reserved exclusively for one make (money making) opportunity, under the guise of feeder series and entry level opportunity for new drivers and teams.

Now, it is true that the only series to actually have been successful in recycling these old Courage-Orecas from year in, year out was the ALMS, and it's successor merger-fusion series with Grand-Am. ALMS had had special for need for LMPC (and GTC) in 2010 with shrunken fields in other classes, and many new teams especially from Prototype Lites series adopted this class as their own. So Oreca was making good cash in servicing and supplying these cars in States, but not so much in Europe. In LMS/ELMS, fields had started to shrunken in 2011 and especially 2012, and by 2013 Oreca was even entering races on their own, under banner "Team Endurance Challenge". One could say that ineligibility to enter Le Mans 24 Hours was one of the reasons why it didn't take off as in USA. But regardless, the seeds had now been laid for future, the future of spec regulations and "chosen ones".

Before we continue on, there's a side note I'd like to discuss. Besides having a pure spec car, there were two other aspects of early FLM/LMPC concept that would ultimately extend their filthy arms all around sportscar racing: pro-am drivers and cost-cap. In 2009 and even as late as 2010 these two concepts were still relatively new and unheard. After all, all of the four ACO main categories had remained open for anyone - factory team with factory drivers and unlimited budget could race in LMGT2 just as easily as in LMGT1, and you could have your LMP2 team consisting of Formula 1 superstarts just as easily as they could have been Renault Clio drivers. There was no artificial separation or handing of sub-trophies. But now in LMPC there was a category that did have a limit. Once again, it did came under the guise of "entry level category", and in fact it indeed was a reasonable explanation for the time. But, but, it only took a fraction of a second before this ideology was implemented from LMPC to both LMP2 and LMGTE-AM in 2011. From there out there was never coming back. Now, admittedly this ideology started reigning in all other aspects of sportscar racing in this period as well, so it's not fair to call it the sole legacy of LMPC, but nevertheless I'm willing to call LMPC as one of the first steps on the road towards it. A Prototype, if you will (ha-ha).

Going back to constructors-oriented prototype racing beginning to slowly crumble, the 2011 regulations for LMP2 did start introducing some minor elements of specification, but more importantly freeze-regulations. Such prevented constructors from advancing their cars further after they had been homologated. So if they built crapwagon chances were they were somewhat doomed, although EVO packages were permitted in certain intervals to help things out. Another aspect was allowing constructors - well, a constructor a la our old friend Oreca - to entirely rebrand their chassis as something else. And thus Alpine was born, legacy which started the further disgusting trend of rebadging and which still continues on. But all in all, the 2011 LMP2 regulations still allowed constructors to switch engines, switch tires or build new chassis altogether. Anyone could still enter if they wanted. There was freedom to be had.

The next major evolution in this road leading up to the demise, was the introduction of LMP3 category in 2015. LMP3 promised a new haven for entry-level ACO prototypes, with not only the now-familiar cost-cap and pro-am privateer concept, but also the introduction of mandatory requirement that only "chosen manufacturers" were allowed to supply the chassis. Ideology utilized by Daytona Prototypes, this concept also had the roots of LMPC in it - there was clear desire for control. Now, at the time of LMP3 introduction, LMPC at that stage was still making cash for Oreca in the United States, and would continue to do so for few years until the end of 2017, but in Europe it had fallen apart. Not that it really hurt Oreca, they were after all also still supplying LMP1 (Rebellion) and LMP2 cars (now both with ageing Oreca 03 but also Oreca 05), but nevertheless you can never have too much money can you? Can you? Well, the new LMP3 category would have five eligible manufacturers hand-picked by the ACO - Onroak, Ginetta, ADESS, Riley, Dome (lol), and later on as the latter ones crumbled Norma as well. As you can see here, there was no Oreca on that list of cartel participants - or was there? Of course there was, as Oreca was responsible for supplying the spec engines, spec electronics and spec gearboxes for all LMP3 cars, regardless of who built them. Sound like something we had before?

The next, and ultimately biggest nail in the coffin for prototype racing, finally came in 2017 with the formal launch of spec regulations for LMP2, demanding everyone to utilize tech-frozen spec cars from four chosen manufacturers - Oreca, Onroak, Dallara and Riley. These regulations were famously brainchild of Hughes de Chaunac, and his aspirations of making more money for Oreca, as if all the other categories weren't enough. Also much as was the case in LMPC and later LMP3, everyone would also be forced to use spec engines and other shared elements. Later on, also spec tires (at the time of writing this still in the future but inevitable). In the IMSA series, there would be a pretense of more variety and freedom under the guise of OEM body panels and engines installed on top of mentioned spec chassis, once again ideology which had been carried over from previous Daytona Prototype generation. But no amount of rebadging could hide the fact that LMP2 was now a spec cartel category, and by the end of the decade almost entirely supplied by Oreca. Oreca, which had had miraculous headstart for the regulations with their older 05 LMP2.

By 2018-2019 all that was left was LMP1, and the old LMP2 (coupes) over at the Asian Le Mans Series. But with LMP1 poised to be replaced by a category revolving around balance of performance in 2021, and the Asian Le Mans Series finally ditching the old non-spec cars as well in 2020, the end of the road had finally been unveiled. The future involves spec cars from LMP2, LMP3 and bop and/or spec cars from LMH/LMdH. Some rebadged, some not. Most of them running spec engines, all of them running spec tires. There are also new spec series, like the Ligier Cup, making more mockery of the word 'prototype'. All in all, when we come to conclusions, I am placing the blame on two parties; ACO for letting this to unveil of course, and Oreca - or Hughes de Chaunac - turning his admittedly great company that had supported sportscar racing trendemously in the noughties, into greedy Cartel Empire.

What started 11 years ago with LMPC, and was followed by LMP2 and LMP3 is the ultimate resolution of what we have today in ideology.

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Old 10 Apr 2020, 14:29 (Ref:3969796)   #2
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One admission I'd like to make. Even though I've often criticized certain manufacturers who've heavily lobbied regulations and performances towards their liking, and in essence even destroyed certain rulesets (like Aston Martin with LMH and to extent GTE), I've also almost always tended to say "but in the end it's not the ultimate fault of the one who lobbies, but who gives up to lobbyism". Hence, ACO and FIA. But I think in the case of Oreca, and more importantly Hughes de Chaunac, it's more than that. In the last 10 years the co-control they've had over the entire sport as whole has been so tremendous, so destructive. I still think the Oreca P1 and P2 coupes have been some of the prettiest cars ever, and I have many good memories involving the company and teams they've partnered up with as whole, but the legacy of what they've done is horribly corrosive. It is corruption at the highest level.

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Old 10 Apr 2020, 16:06 (Ref:3969828)   #3
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An interesting and well-written piece; I guess we all have too much time on our hands with all that social distancing.

I'm agreeing with most of what you have written, but I'm not sure if it's fair to cast Hughes de Chaunac as the villain here. We have to take this with a grain of salt, but according to one interview, Oreca actually needed the cap on the number of manufacturers to be able to sell enough cars to not operate at a loss. So it's not so much about greedily increasing already large profits, but - absent cash-rich benefactors as in the case of SMP - about keeping the company in the prototype business at all. Now, as I mentioned already, I probably wouldn't take de Chaunac's word alone for it, but the fact that many prototype constructors went out of business or ceased building prototypes long before the advent of any constructor caps, e.g. Pilbeam, Lola, Tamboli, Radical, really shows that not all was well with the finances of these companies when the market was still open to all comers.

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Another aspect was allowing constructors - well, a constructor a la our old friend Oreca - to entirely rebrand their chassis as something else.
This is also an aspect I don't really see as a problem... Being able to badge specialist-built cars has been around for a long time. Cf. the various MG-Lolas or "Chrysler" LMP1s from around the turn of the century.

Finally, I think that you are ignoring the role that customers, i.e. teams and drivers play in this. Presented with the option of guaranteed competitiveness through BoP and mandatory Pro/Am classes in other series, there is very little incentive for them to shell out for a car or a drive in an ACO series where they might be playing catch-up or be completely uncompetitive all season long if they go for the wrong equipment or find themselves face to face with all-out pro-squads. Now, the attraction of the LM 24h can serve as somewhat of a mitigating factor here as teams and drivers might be willing to accept the hardship of not being guaranteed competitiveness if they can say that they participated in the Great Race. Unfortunately, that, does not translate completely to the year-long series, especially when a large chunk of the Le Mans slots is blocked for WEC teams and only limited contingents from IMSA and ELMS can even hope to be invited. So in a way, the ACO and the affiliated series were under pressure to move towards BoP and Pro/Am classes as soon as their competitors such as SRO and Grand Am had switched towards that model.

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Old 10 Apr 2020, 17:17 (Ref:3969854)   #4
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I'm agreeing with most of what you have written, but I'm not sure if it's fair to cast Hughes de Chaunac as the villain here. We have to take this with a grain of salt, but according to one interview, Oreca actually needed the cap on the number of manufacturers to be able to sell enough cars to not operate at a loss. So it's not so much about greedily increasing already large profits, but - absent cash-rich benefactors as in the case of SMP - about keeping the company in the prototype business at all. Now, as I mentioned already, I probably wouldn't take de Chaunac's word alone for it, but the fact that many prototype constructors went out of business or ceased building prototypes long before the advent of any constructor caps, e.g. Pilbeam, Lola, Tamboli, Radical, really shows that not all was well with the finances of these companies when the market was still open to all comers.
I have such hard time believing Oreca would have been operating with loss in terms of 05 and O3R supply in 2015-2016, but even if that miraculously was the case, their supplementary "bonus income" coming out of LMP3 and LMPC, all effectively orchestrated with the ACO, would surely have compensated.

Now, the other argument here is that the cost cap of Spec-2017 LMP2 actually went up. The old regs had max cap of 370,000 (open top) or 450,000 (coupe), but the spec cars had cap of 483,000 euros. Yet everything was advertised the other way by Hughes.

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This is also an aspect I don't really see as a problem... Being able to badge specialist-built cars has been around for a long time. Cf. the various MG-Lolas or "Chrysler" LMP1s from around the turn of the century.

Finally, I think that you are ignoring the role that customers, i.e. teams and drivers play in this. Presented with the option of guaranteed competitiveness through BoP and mandatory Pro/Am classes in other series, there is very little incentive for them to shell out for a car or a drive in an ACO series where they might be playing catch-up or be completely uncompetitive all season long if they go for the wrong equipment or find themselves face to face with all-out pro-squads. Now, the attraction of the LM 24h can serve as somewhat of a mitigating factor here as teams and drivers might be willing to accept the hardship of not being guaranteed competitiveness if they can say that they participated in the Great Race. Unfortunately, that, does not translate completely to the year-long series, especially when a large chunk of the Le Mans slots is blocked for WEC teams and only limited contingents from IMSA and ELMS can even hope to be invited. So in a way, the ACO and the affiliated series were under pressure to move towards BoP and Pro/Am classes as soon as their competitors such as SRO and Grand Am had switched towards that model.
Having two identical Oreca 03/05/07s sitting next to each other and second of the cars having different chassis/homologation title than the other, that's not the same as rebadging entire fleet of the same exact car (ie Morgan etc)

As you sort of pointed out, ACO has one thing none of these other championships and organizers do - the Le Mans 24 Hours. With that card alone you could pretty much dictate what you want, and not to follow the "guaranteed success" models of others. Because let's face it, whatever ACO does you will always get full grid of cars for Le Mans - this is not 1992 anymore.

However, now that they indeed have given up, there is no going back anymore, because the crowd has already settled in for the said guaranteed success.

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Old 10 Apr 2020, 19:48 (Ref:3969895)   #5
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I have such hard time believing Oreca would have been operating with loss in terms of 05 and O3R supply in 2015-2016, but even if that miraculously was the case, their supplementary "bonus income" coming out of LMP3 and LMPC, all effectively orchestrated with the ACO, would surely have compensated.
But that's not what smart business men do, propping up a failing program with money from a well-running one.

That being said, I guess you have a point with them making enough money with the 03 and 05. But even if so, there was no guarantee that they would keep on selling cars in sufficient numbers in the future. After all, even once thriving constructors like Spice and Lola ran into trouble over time.

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As you sort of pointed out, ACO has one thing none of these other championships and organizers do - the Le Mans 24 Hours. With that card alone you could pretty much dictate what you want, and not to follow the "guaranteed success" models of others. Because let's face it, whatever ACO does you will always get full grid of cars for Le Mans - this is not 1992 anymore.
I'm not too sure about that. I don't remember the exact year, but not too long ago, the ACO actually had not enough entries to completely fill up the ten reserve slots. And that was at a time when the economic climate was somewhat decent.

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However, now that they indeed have given up, there is no going back anymore, because the crowd has already settled in for the said guaranteed success.
I wouldn't be quite as pessimistic. Eventually, the current leadership at the ACO will retire, and maybe the next guys will actually value innovation again. It's not a perfect analogy, but the touring car series in both Sweden and Denmark went from running all-out silhouettes to TCR, which despite the BoP requires builders to at least come up with a somewhat decent car. So a series going less spec is not completely unheard of.

Maybe this is a process that needs to happen in small steps, so here is a modest proposal: Provided the ACO see some value in allowing innovation and open competition again, they should set aside a small number (six or so) of slots on the grid for a new class. Let's call it LMP-C, with the C Standing for "constructor". To make sure that this new class does not get dominated by major OEMs, their performance should be somewhere in the vicinity of LMP3. Additionally, the ACO should provide all teams with a spec tub. This, however, would be the only common-part shared by the cars in the class as the rules for LMP-C would specifically require all teams to create their own cars around that tub (much like HPD, Oreca and Pescarolo created their own cars based on the Courage tub). That way, you'd have a cost-effective class that would still encourage innovation - and a good test balloon to determine if more open competition would actually be attractive for teams, drivers, sponsors and fans.
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Old 11 Apr 2020, 12:42 (Ref:3970041)   #6
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But that's not what smart business men do, propping up a failing program with money from a well-running one.

That being said, I guess you have a point with them making enough money with the 03 and 05. But even if so, there was no guarantee that they would keep on selling cars in sufficient numbers in the future. After all, even once thriving constructors like Spice and Lola ran into trouble over time.
Fair enough, and I think whatever we say about Hughes, it is true that he is indeed a smart businessman. He may indeed be smarter than any other figurehead in the sport right now when it comes to getting ROI together, even Oak/Onroak has not managed to get the wheels spinning at same rate. Savior of the Sport however, not so much... more like Destroyer of the Sport, even if he never has wanted any harm to it...

There's never complete guarantees of anything, not unless you orchestrate it to be guaranteed, like has happened here let's face it. Too bad Spice and even Lola competed in the age when you couldn't directly manipulate the sport for one's liking.

Anyway, as said, the old (Courage-)Oreca 03R had some years still with it's latest EVO package, but more than that the Oreca 05 proved at Le Mans 2015 and 2016 that it was essentially engineered and optimized for winning that race more than any other chassis. Had they kept going with the old regulations, or even variation of it, the sales of O5 surely would have been sufficient enough to push the little "annoyances" from Zytek, HPD, SMP and others for even smaller market share. The tech freeze regulations already meant that if you couldn't beat Oreca 05 at Le Mans, you would have had to build new chassis altogether if switching engines or whatever failed or new EVO kit wasn't enough.

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I'm not too sure about that. I don't remember the exact year, but not too long ago, the ACO actually had not enough entries to completely fill up the ten reserve slots. And that was at a time when the economic climate was somewhat decent.
I feel as if that's more the fault of (theoretical) requirement to be a full season entrant in ACO championship, or even that not being enough to get the spot on the entry list. Especially if you're LMP team, with bias towards GTE. What I meant was more along the lines of, you probably would get 150 entry request each year if the said requirements were taken off again.

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I wouldn't be quite as pessimistic. Eventually, the current leadership at the ACO will retire, and maybe the next guys will actually value innovation again. It's not a perfect analogy, but the touring car series in both Sweden and Denmark went from running all-out silhouettes to TCR, which despite the BoP requires builders to at least come up with a somewhat decent car. So a series going less spec is not completely unheard of.

Maybe this is a process that needs to happen in small steps, so here is a modest proposal: Provided the ACO see some value in allowing innovation and open competition again, they should set aside a small number (six or so) of slots on the grid for a new class. Let's call it LMP-C, with the C Standing for "constructor". To make sure that this new class does not get dominated by major OEMs, their performance should be somewhere in the vicinity of LMP3. Additionally, the ACO should provide all teams with a spec tub. This, however, would be the only common-part shared by the cars in the class as the rules for LMP-C would specifically require all teams to create their own cars around that tub (much like HPD, Oreca and Pescarolo created their own cars based on the Courage tub). That way, you'd have a cost-effective class that would still encourage innovation - and a good test balloon to determine if more open competition would actually be attractive for teams, drivers, sponsors and fans.
The current leadership at the ACO is only mirroring what's happening in the rest of motorsport I'm afraid, so I'm not sure if changing of the gang is really going to make a difference if the next one is just going to continue following the norm of everyone else. There's always going to be new arrogant Vincent Beaumesnil.

Regarding the TCR example, cars relying on regular BoP route over spec route is even worse in my books, but I think I've covered that side of the argument only too well in my thousands of posts. As a side note however, I'd like to ask about your line "which despite the BoP requires builders to at least come up with a somewhat decent car". I had thought TCR was just touring car version of GT3(/GTE)?

I find your proposal, well, better than anything else on the "2021 and beyond" grid, and especially the LMP3 speed range is pretty much the same I've suggested for G56-type innovation prototype class. The spec tub class isn't something I'm particularly fond of - and after all the examples you gave didn't choose the tub in question because they "had to" - but I guess it would work as compromise. At least it would be something. In this day and age something is the maximum that can be asked

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Old 11 Apr 2020, 13:31 (Ref:3970049)   #7
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Since I follow motorsport, I've always noticed some kind of middle-age/reinassence cycle across the years... it usually follows the same pattern actually....

a little group of manufacturers get their interest in a championship -> the champ attracts other manufacturers for some seasons -> competition between manufacturers rises as costs get to the stars as well -> some manufacturers begin to withdraw since costs are no longer sustainable ->
scenario A: all manufacturers leave and champ slowly dies or turns in something else
scenario B: all manufacturers but one or few of them remain and write the rules of the new transitory phase

In our days, hybrid madness costs killed lmp1-h.
GTE/GTLM is getting too precious and suitable only for manufacturers or a small circle of private teams. Actually as shown by ford and maybe next year by bmw, a GTE program isn't exactly the priority for a manufacturer as well.
DPi idea was great since costs are almost comparable to a gt3 program, but it seems wasn't interesting enough for most of manufacturers.

Honestly don't expect a mass entrance of manufacturers in lmdh, most of all if toyota will lobby to have their hypercar with a more favourable bop/tech.rules.
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Old 11 Apr 2020, 22:24 (Ref:3970162)   #8
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Since I follow motorsport, I've always noticed some kind of middle-age/reinassence cycle across the years... it usually follows the same pattern actually....

a little group of manufacturers get their interest in a championship -> the champ attracts other manufacturers for some seasons -> competition between manufacturers rises as costs get to the stars as well -> some manufacturers begin to withdraw since costs are no longer sustainable ->
scenario A: all manufacturers leave and champ slowly dies or turns in something else
scenario B: all manufacturers but one or few of them remain and write the rules of the new transitory phase

In our days, hybrid madness costs killed lmp1-h.
GTE/GTLM is getting too precious and suitable only for manufacturers or a small circle of private teams. Actually as shown by ford and maybe next year by bmw, a GTE program isn't exactly the priority for a manufacturer as well.
DPi idea was great since costs are almost comparable to a gt3 program, but it seems wasn't interesting enough for most of manufacturers.

Honestly don't expect a mass entrance of manufacturers in lmdh, most of all if toyota will lobby to have their hypercar with a more favourable bop/tech.rules.
It is true, this "cycle of OEMs". Scenario B is pretty much what tends to happen to the overall top class at Le Mans, albeit I do not think it's the only way it happens - and certainly not with this latest set of withdrawals as that had much to do with the unexpected VW scandal, as well as the Nissan and Aston Martin embarrassment stories. Scenario A seems to be the fate of top LMGT class, as best proven by 90's GT1 being replaced by 90's GT2, then that beoming the 00's GT1 and being replaced by 00's GT2. Which probably will get replaced by GT3 later on

However, the main point of this thread wasn't to be focused on the OEM partition, which as said works in cycles anyway, but the decline and fall of small-to-medium sized - or just privateer - prototype constructors, and non-spec racing in general.

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Old 12 Apr 2020, 05:37 (Ref:3970228)   #9
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As a thought, even with this spec car monopoly, ORECA only has as many cars in the race this year as Porsche did in the 80s when 10 fewer cars were starting. If you go back a couple decades you might have had prototype variety but the entry list was stuffed with 911s instead. Although having said that this year's Le Mans is crammed with 488s too.

In general though, naturally customer categories without constraints on car availability tend to head towards an overwhelming majority of one type of car anyways so as long as you have 55/61 entries coming from only two types of car and something like 40 of those are customer entries it was liable to look this way. There was a point in time Reynard had 23 cars in a 29 car CART field despite no restrictions on who could build chassis and it was probably even more lopsided in F3000 before that. Dallara became a de facto spec car provider in the old F3 rules just because nobody bought anything else.

I don't like it politically or conceptually and the development freezes could be considered almost another issue entirely but besides going back to two distinct GT classes and reducing the LMP2 count with some actual LMP1 entries the only other thing that would outright prevent this situation is some special manufacturer cars with limited customer availability blocking out the top of the competition instead so everyone has to bet on random constructors to try and beat them, and that's not exactly a good thing.
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Old 12 Apr 2020, 07:17 (Ref:3970231)   #10
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As a thought, even with this spec car monopoly, ORECA only has as many cars in the race this year as Porsche did in the 80s when 10 fewer cars were starting.
Right, but teams were allowed to modify their Porsches and did so to a large degree. Even the chassis/tubs would come from numerous constructors, not just Porsche themselves.
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Old 12 Apr 2020, 12:59 (Ref:3970316)   #11
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And they didn't have to choose Porsche in the first place.

Another example I often like to use are the low number Ferrari 360 and later 430 teams coming to face the ludicrous Porsche 911 armada at the beginning of the century in GT/NGT/GT2. They were at horrendous disadvantage in terms of numbers and it seemed almost desperate but through time, clever engineering and ultimately taking couple of wins, the numbers in GT2 started to rotate 50-50 between Ferrari and Porsche. Meanwhile the likes of Spyker still continued at the back of the back, even though they did not have realistic chance to win with the package they had built. It's living proof that just because you do not have guaranteed success, you can and should still compete. That is what sport is all about.

Cream always rises to the top, it's clear. But cream rising to the top when there's only 3 other available pre-packaged ingredients, or in fact nothing else at all, that's nothing special. It's like comparing late afternoon emptying Chinese buffet to a la carte menu at Michelin restaurant.

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Old 12 Apr 2020, 17:36 (Ref:3970361)   #12
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Another example I often like to use are the low number Ferrari 360 and later 430 teams coming to face the ludicrous Porsche 911 armada at the beginning of the century in GT/NGT/GT2. They were at horrendous disadvantage in terms of numbers and it seemed almost desperate but through time, clever engineering and ultimately taking couple of wins, the numbers in GT2 started to rotate 50-50 between Ferrari and Porsche. Meanwhile the likes of Spyker still continued at the back of the back, even though they did not have realistic chance to win with the package they had built. It's living proof that just because you do not have guaranteed success, you can and should still compete. That is what sport is all about.
I'd add to that: despite being slower, things weren't completely hopeless for the Ferraris, Spykers, Panozes and TVRs. By running a steady race, they had a chance to score podiums and sometimes even wins a la LNT with the Panoz at Le Mans in 2006. Without BoP, the Porsches had to run at the ragged edge of driver skills and reliability as well and some of them did not see the checkered flag after 1000km or 24h. This also helped amateur-drivers like Leo Hindery or Tracy Krohn (!) who both scored podiums at Le Mans without running in a dedicated amateur class.

Today, series brag about a 100% finishing rate when they really should be embarassed by that, as it just shows that drivers and cars are not running at the maximum of their potential performance.
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Old 12 Apr 2020, 17:59 (Ref:3970366)   #13
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I'd add to that: despite being slower, things weren't completely hopeless for the Ferraris, Spykers, Panozes and TVRs. By running a steady race, they had a chance to score podiums and sometimes even wins a la LNT with the Panoz at Le Mans in 2006. Without BoP, the Porsches had to run at the ragged edge of driver skills and reliability as well and some of them did not see the checkered flag after 1000km or 24h. This also helped amateur-drivers like Leo Hindery or Tracy Krohn (!) who both scored podiums at Le Mans without running in a dedicated amateur class.

Today, series brag about a 100% finishing rate when they really should be embarassed by that, as it just shows that drivers and cars are not running at the maximum of their potential performance.
Yessss excellent points. And especially the bit about Tracy is something I always want to go back to when people start going on about the 'need' for privateers to have a 'chance' of winning something when factories are at play.

The organizers - and even more so the specialist media - also tend to brag on and on about how everyone is at the limit all the time, you know because everything is dead equal thanks to maximum handicapping and other lame rules like free-laps-back after cautions. Yet what you just said proves it can't be exactly right either. If the drivers really were at the edge of their seats all the time, they would be making more and more mistakes and the cars wouldn't be able to take all the heat. Furthermore one wouldn't be able to continuously sandbag for more advantageous BoP - which most of them obviously are outside of one day in June - because there wouldn't be such luxury if you were pushing 100% day and night for the results. These drivers are no more heroes than they were 10-20 years ago, even if in the end they are the last factor in the car that's not spec'd or performance balanced by the organizers. They may make most of the direct performance difference today, if we discount the political lawyers in the backroom that is, but supermen they are not.

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Old 12 Apr 2020, 20:20 (Ref:3970384)   #14
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Drivers may be pushing 100% as far as their capabilities, but not so much the machinery. If in LMP1 the cars were making 1000+bhp on engine power alone, we'd be seeing a lot more mechanical DNFs or poor finishes. By 2018, Toyota were the only OEM Factory team left, and by then 1000+bhp between hybrid and engine was passe.

Ironically, the LMP1 Hybrid era did bring about more issues with the cars that made the results of some races less predictable. But I do agree with BOP and such sometimes making results either foregone or a crapshoot. But go back about 15-20 years where we didn't have BOP in IMSA or LM. Audi were virtually guaranteed to win because they had the best package at a win rate (throughout the R8's life) of 80%. Only Panoz or Dyson had a snowball's chance in hell of coming though the other 20% of the time.

Also, we have to understand that reducing engine power and such is in step with trends in the real world automotive industry, and especially for the prototypes, safety. Just because you can give LMP1s 1000bhp on engine power alone, if you combine that with the know-how acquired to get around the power reductions of the past decade, the LMP1s with that much power would easily be at least 10 seconds a lap faster round LM.

Unless the aero and chassis stuff learned over the past decade gets restricted or banned, you can't unlearn what has been learned.
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Old 12 Apr 2020, 21:55 (Ref:3970427)   #15
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Right, but teams were allowed to modify their Porsches and did so to a large degree. Even the chassis/tubs would come from numerous constructors, not just Porsche themselves.
As broadly true as that is for sprint racing, all the Porsches at Le Mans in the year I was looking at were quite standard besides the 936C. It was in later years when newer factory cars were making the 962 obsolete that people really started throwing things at them to try to catch up. While the factory was still involved and customer teams were regularly winning Group C races there wasn't much happening besides gluing on front wings. So that's once again innovation being driven by scarcity of top level equipment rather than just freedom.

The Spykers weren't raced for fun or sport, had it been a private race team with no outside concerns besides racing they would have just bought a Porsche. Even most Ferrari GTs aren't sold for really sporting reasons but their collector value and pay driver prestige makes them worth it. Point is LMP2 is quite unfair from a car builder standpoint but it's extremely fair from an entrant standpoint.

Say in theory to address that while protecting the teams I'd rather have a lower cost cap and no constructor limit, so from the team's standpoint they can afford to swap cars more easily if someone knocks off the top car, but I then wonder if more than one constructor would want to build cars for such a category at all with the ratio of R&D cost to sales income and it wouldn't create an F3 situation.
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