Michelin Le Mans Cup will try out something new for the 2021 season, with another kind of adjustment between drivers.
The changes are related to the Bronze drivers, with a Bronze+ designation.
The LMC rules state that there needs to be a Bronze rated driver in each car, no matter if it’s LMP3 or GT3. The Bronze rating can consist of both older drivers, or the young guns, who haven’t previously raced.
The mix of older drivers, and the very young ones, who are judged not to be at the Silver level, can give a few problems.
One example was Fabien Lavergne with Bronze raking, while he was able to almost do Silver pace. He was moved up to being a Silver ranked driver for 2020. But that is not a single case, since Rino Mastronardi delivered the almost same impressive results during 2020.
The new system has four faces.
Phase 1 is for the drivers aiming to be close to the Silver, for which he or she will receive 20 seconds of pitstop penalty, during the mandatory pitstop.
Phase 2 is a bit closer to the Silver driver, and those will have 50 seconds extra stop time.
Phase 3 is even closer to the Silver pace, and will get 80 seconds extra in the pits, while Phase 4 will get a total of 120 seconds added.
The system will replace the pitstop success handicaps so far, which was awarded to the race results in the previous race.
The new system is an automatic calculation, which will be released after each weekend, and will be public. The time penalty is attached to the driver, while the old handicap system was connected to the car – so if a team had a change of line-up, and the first line-up was very successful, it would bite the second crew, the following weekend.
There have been some critic talks, with the kind of penalizing the Bronze driver, and some drivers might try to drive slower than their real pace. That is a possibility of course – but 50% of the race will be done by the Silver ranked driver, and will do his or her part of the job, and do everything to win the race. And if a team chooses to run 6 fast Bronze rated driver, none of those drivers can win the championship – and will you be able to find 6 drivers, who are fast, that only wishes to run a single race each season?
The Michelin Le Mans Cup is scheduled to start on 17 April 2021 at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.