24h Le Mans
8 Hours of Bahrain – Farewell to the remarkable LMP1 class
With the 8 Hours of Bahrain marking the end of the 2019-2020 FIA WEC season, let's take a look at the final hours in career of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, one of the most iconic cars of the LMP1 class in endurance racing. In 2021, the top class will become the Hypercar class.
LMP1, the top class in endurance racing created in 2004, continued to evolve during its 15 years. It saw the arrival of diesel cars, hybrids, the introduction of a principle of energy management per lap as well as remarkable reductions in consumption. Among the individuals credited with overseeing LMP1 these last few years are ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil and ACO Technical Director Thierry Bouvet, both responsible for key moments in the class' existence.
For Bouvet, the LMP1 era coincided with the establishment of an EoT (equivalence of technologies) meant to guarantee competition between different technologies (engine and/or a hydrid system). A hallmark of endurance racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans is to accommodate various options selected by entrants. The era saw cars evolve via a wide breadth of technologies, proof of the advances enabled by the discipline and the class, with the cars setting certain records at the chicaneless configuration of the Le Mans circuit. At the same time, the reduction in fuel consumption of thermal engines, a goal for the ACO, was also hugely significant.
For Beaumesnil: "The LMP1 class symbolised the renaissance of endurance racing in the early 2000s with highly performant and safe cars." The diesel rivalry between Audi and Peugeot also served as an important phase and the Audi, Porsche and Toyota hybrid prototypes, boasting three different strategies, gave the world extremely competitive races. "The regulations were excellent for allowing the three constructors technological levels never before attained in the motorsport, facilitating record performance achievements and unparalleled energy efficiency, with 50% fuel consumption reduction within just a few years."
The LMP1 class, a pivotal facet of the history of endurance racing, has lasted until 2021 and now cedes its place to new Hypercar era. Toyota recently hit the track in secret with its new car, publishing several teaser photos of the effort.