The scream of V10 and V12 prototype engines will disappear from the Le Mans 24 Hours when new engine rules come into force in 2011.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which sets the regulations for Le Mans and its associate series around the world, has revealed that the current LMP2 powerplants will become the basis of the LMP1 engine formula in two years’ time. That will mean normally-aspirated V8s of a maximum capacity 3.4 litres and 2-litre turbo fours for petrol engines and, most likely, 3.7-litre V8s for turbo-diesels. The new rules will draw a line under powerplants such as the Judd V10 and the V12 diesels developed by Audi and Peugeot.
Team owner Henri Pescarolo, who won Le Mans three times with Matra V12 power, said he was disappointed with the new regulations, which are to be coupled with a reduction in noise limits over the next three seasons.
“I’m sad that engines like the Judd will disappear,” he said. ”Noise is very important in the attraction of motor racing. There is a danger that people will not find our sport so appealing if we go down this route.”
The rules have been introduced to reflect trends in the automotive industry, according to ACO rules boss Daniel Poissenot.
“Talking to manufacturers we understand that we need to have engines which use less fuel, and create less emissions and less noise,” he said. ”This is the way we have to go.”
LMP2 cars will have to be powered by production-based engines from 2011.
The ACO has cut the power of turbo-diesels for 2009 with the aim of creating a level playing field and slowing the cars. It has reserved the right to make further changes prior to Le Mans after evaluating the petrol-diesel equivalency following the opening rounds of the American Le Mans Series and its European equivalent.