The abundance of strict regulations in the FIA World Endurance Championship has led to “almost preordained” races at places like Le Mans, complains Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan. He’s not been quiet since last weekend’s 24-hour race, which resulted in a fourth-in-class finish for the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and a DNF for the No. 64 car, saying previously that there was no real battle for the lead spot in the GTE-Pro class after Hour 4, when a safety car period gave the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR a two-and-a-half-minute lead.
But it wasn’t just the GTE-Pro pack being split up by safety cars that spoiled Le Mans 2018, he notes; new-for-2018 regulations like pit stop rules, minimum refueling times, and maximum stint lengths all played a part in reducing the importance of good strategy.
“I don’t think it’s intentional, but I think that we’re going to find that we have really gotten close on a BoP situation and now we need to focus on a sporting regulations situation,” Fehan told Sportscar365. “I think the sporting regulations have made the race almost too mechanical, almost preordained, and not real racing. And that’s not a criticism.”
At this year’s Le Mans race, cars in the GTE-Pro class were limited to 14-lap stints, except for the first (11-lap limit) and final (13-lap limit) stints. Like last year, teams also had to adhere to refueling time limits, with a minimum of 35 seconds to refuel for GTE Pro.
According to Sportscar365, Doug Fehan is rather pleased with how the FIA and ACO have managed to balance performance between GTE-Pro teams, resulting in a fairly level playing field. But, he says, the new pit stop regulations have reduced the team’s role in producing a good outcome. Refueling and tire changes are now conducted at the same time, which Fehan would like to see changed.
“I am a huge advocate of separating car work and fueling,” he said. “I like it when the pit stop plays a role in how effectively you compete in the race. Where it’s more than just a driver in the car, it’s the whole team that has a role.
“The unintended consequence of that is that it encourages less tire usage. Because now you really have to ask yourself, ‘Should I keep the set of tires on, or should I take the time to put a new set on?’… I like that.”