ALMS rules changes…

Without having the ACO rules book in front of me, here’s some info from a recent Speed TV write up regarding the new ALMS rules.  I’ve got to figure, because of the relationship between the ACO and the ALMS, the new rules are probably handed down from the ACO and the ALMS then implements them.

With new regulations and revised class structures, the American Le Mans Series has undergone changes for the second consecutive year. To help get us up to speed, here’s the first of a two-part series with IMSA’s VP of Operations, Scot Elkins, who helps break down the changes in store.

After a season with prototypes running in a combined LMP category, the biggest adjustment for 2011 comes with the separation of LMP1 and LMP2. New prototype regulations handed down by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest enforcing smaller displacement engines and new cost-cutting measures in P2 helped make it an easy thing for the ALMS to adopt.

New 2011-spec LMP1 cars effectively take over the performance levels LMP2 cars previously held. With smaller power plants ranging from 3.4-liter V8s to 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbos and 3.7-liter V6 turbo diesels, the category sees a significant reduction in power, roughly 100 horsepower. Revised aerodynamics, including the mandated use of a shark fin for all new P1 cars, has also been enforced.

Most ALMS teams, however, will benefit from the ACO’s grandfather rules, allowing existing LMP1 machinery to compete for an additional season. Cars such as Muscle Milk Aston Martin’s V12-powered Lola-Aston and Intersport’s Lola AER twin-turbo V8 rocket will continue to compete, albeit with a smaller air restrictor.

It’s a slightly different story for Dyson Racing’s Lola B08/80 Mazda, though. While its 2.0-liter four-cylinder Mazda MZR-R turbo conforms to the 2011 LMP1 engine regulations, the car was originally designed for LMP2 competition with smaller-sized wheels and a lighter minimum weight.

With all LMP1 cars conforming to 900 kgs, and the team estimating it would have cost around $250,000 to upgrade the car with new suspension, larger wheels other components, IMSA has allowed for it to run at 850 kg but with a smaller air restrictor.

LMP2 has undergone a complete overhaul in efforts to keep the division a cost-effective platform for privateers. The biggest change comes with cost-capped chassis and engines, with a complete new car not exceeding $550,000.

Production engines, either derived from the GT category or from the showroom floor, are the new wave of power plants for the future. Options range from a 5.0-liter naturally aspired V8 to a 3.2-liter V6 turbo. A minimum weight of 900 kg, the same as their big brothers, is also now mandated.

Driver categorizations have also been introduced in LMP2, joining the LMPC and GTC divisions. In short, at least one gentleman or amateur driver must be part of each team’s lineup to help ensure an equal playing field.

With slower speeds likely in LMP2, one of the challenges could come with balancing the speed differentials among the five classes, especially LMPC, which remains relatively unchanged from last year.

While LMPC remains relatively untouched, the production-based ranks of GT and GTC see a few minor adjustments. Paddle shift systems are now allowed on GT machinery, along with a two-percent air restrictor increase for teams utilizing E10 fuel. E85 fuel capacity remains at 110 liters, though.

Speaking of fuel, LMP1 teams using E85 will have a 20 liter reduction in fuel capacity from last year, to go along with the ACO’s decreased fuel tank sizes for E10 and diesel-powered entries.

While it’s clear that IMSA has again made some tweaks to the regulations in efforts to help accommodate the nature of the U.S.-based championship, it’s continued to be with the full support of the ACO.

I find it interesting the GT class will now be allowed to use paddle shifters.  The same Speed TV story had this video from Corvette Racing talking about their testing the new paddle system.

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