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Pro drivers critical of new LMP2 driver rules

Several professional drivers have raised questions over the decision to change the rules for LMP2 driver line-ups to make silver and bronze drivers mandatory from 2021.

On Friday, the FIA World Motor Sport Council ratified a new rule change that would force teams to field at least two silver drivers or a bronze driver in their LMP2 line-up starting from 2021. This is in contrast to the current rule, where teams are required to run at least one silver or bronze-rated driver, but have free choice over the rest of the line-up.

This has placed teams with bronze-rated drivers at a disadvantage and rarely puts them in the position to win races. The only bronze-rated driver to win an LMP2 race is Frits van Eerd, who took victory in Fuji in 2019.

The new rule is aimed at bringing the class closer together, but in the wake of Friday’s news, some of the professional drivers involved in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series have taken to social media to cast doubts upon the new set of rules.

“So to understand this correctly… they have decided to change regulations for a category that had 24 cars in Le Mans & was full of talent,” Oliver Jarvis wrote. “For me this would have made sense in 2023 to coincide with the introduction of LMDH when the top class will be a more viable option.”

The rule looks set to impact most if not all of the current top teams in LMP2, which most commonly run a pair of pro drivers paired up with a silver-rated driver. Top championship squads United Autosport, JOTA, Jackie Chan DC Racing and Signatech Alpine Elf all utilize this approach.

While Jarvis raises concerns about the economic impact of the new regulation, 2019 Le Mans class winner and AF Corse factory driver James Calado points to a different issue. The Briton claims that the increase of non-professional drivers on the grid could be at the cost of driver safety, pointing to last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as an example.

“Silly idea, danger to our safety especially at Le Mans. This year was already very amateur and we saw big crashes and drivers completely out of control (not everyone). Worst idea ever honestly, don’t agree. Especially in LMP2.”

Calado’s comments are in reference to a notable number of incidents involving bronze-rated drivers at Le Mans, with several of them caught up in spins or involved in incidents with other cars.

One notable example was the clash between Oswaldo Negri and Thomas Preining in the opening hour, which sent Preining into the barriers at the Dunlop chicane after Negri spun when he was lapped by Mike Conway’s Toyota.

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