Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest: "We could have between 10 and 15 Hypercars at the start in 2023"

“In Hypercar, it’s still a year of transition before 2023. Do you regret, in particular, that Peugeot did not “dare” to come?
We would have liked Peugeot to be there, of course, but I completely understand that they preferred not to rush their homologation, because then the cars are frozen until 2025. We will still have a good race, because nothing ever won at Le Mans. So many things can happen. We will see, I hope, a very good duel between Alpine, Glickenhaus and Toyota, which showed that he was fallible. In LMP2, the field is magnificent (27 crews) with very high-level teams, some of which are working to reach the top category. This is the last year of the GTE Pro, so Porsche, Corvette and Ferrari will be keen to win. In GTE Am, the field is also very rich, with Aston Martin joining us.

What do you know about the future plateau of 2023?
Impossible to say with certainty who will be there or not because the selection committee must first decide (smile). If we refer to the public intentions displayed by the manufacturers, we know that we will have Peugeot, Porsche, Ferrari and Cadillac, and perhaps even others. That could be between 10 and 15 cars on the grid. We will probably have a little less LMP2, but all categories are important at Le Mans, so we will preserve them. The idea is not to make room for Hypercars to the detriment of others.

“The BoP was put in place to avoid escalating costs and give everyone an equal chance of winning”

Are you worried that some manufacturers will come for the challenge and leave the Championship quite quickly if the results don’t follow?
We know that builders come and go. They have sports programs over a number of years, which can be cut short for reasons that have nothing to do with motorsport. They are always cycles. These regulations were written for five years until 2025. We know that there will also be customer cars so we can expect good years ahead of us. I think that this regulation is attractive, it has allowed a very significant reduction in costs. And we have a BoP (Balance of Performance), which was put in place precisely to avoid escalating costs and which gives everyone the same chance of winning.

This BoP can also give rise to disagreement, resentment and controversy. Have you prepared for it?
In Hypercar, the cars are quite similar, even if there will be two categories, the LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) and the LMdH (Le Mans Daytona Hypercar): they have the same weight, the same power and the same aerodynamic constraints. So it’s going to be a lot easier to balance than the GTs. We have tools on his cars, like the torque meter, which measures the actual power at the wheel. We will have enough to manage this BoP.

How do you view this centenary edition?
With a lot of emotions and pride. We are working a lot on this event and have worked with the FIA ​​and IMSA. And if the builders come back, it’s thanks to this work. Having at least six manufacturers for the centenary is a great satisfaction, and it shows the good health of endurance racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

What does the ACO have in store for the public for the centenary edition?
It all starts at Pebble Beach this year in August (a Concours d’Elegance held in California) with the official presentation of the trophy, which will be unique for the centennial race. The drawing will be very different. As part of the competition, there will be a special Le Mans line-up. Then we’ll go to the Goodwood Festival, then to the Chantilly Concours d’Élégance. Our trophy will be presented at all WEC races until Le Mans next year, much like the Olympic flame. An event will be organized during next year’s Retromobile show and also in Paris, in May, in order to reach an audience that is not necessarily fond of car racing. The centenary film will be shown there at that time. For the 24 Hours, we try to bring together all the cars that won during the race. It’s a complicated bet, but we hope to have at least two thirds of the cars.

F1 is doing very well at the moment. Is there competition with endurance?
When F1 is doing well, motorsport is doing well. I don’t think there is any competition between us. F1 produced a very good series (Drive to Survive, on Netflix), it was very positive for them. We are working on a similar project and I think there is room for the different categories.

“Jim Glickenhaus represents the spirit of Le Mans, it’s David against Goliath”

However, this week you end up with an unfortunate duplicate (Azerbaijan GP takes place on Sunday)…
There are only 52 weeks in a year, and if you take out all the winter ones… There are more and more Grands Prix, there is Formula E, so it’s very complicated. We’re working to secure the centennial date next year.

What is your opinion of Jim Glickenhaus, who is a bit of a UFO in the paddock?
I love it, it represents the spirit of Le Mans. It’s David versus Goliath. When you see him come and challenge Toyota, an automotive giant, it’s great. The history of this race is full of people like him, and we need projects like this to keep Le Mans going. In addition, he has a particular personality, he is very followed on social networks. It’s good for us.

Peugeot arriving to challenge Porsche, Ferrari and Toyota, is it David against Goliath too?
Stellantis is a big group. Peugeot have shown in the past that they know how to make cars and when they come here it’s to win. They will have the weapons to fight.

The audacity of the 9X8, what do you think?
This is the strength of the Hypercar regulations. We gave a performance window to reach and we left the manufacturers free to decide how to achieve it. This allowed designers to be able to create freely. The cars are very different, unlike the LMP1s, and Peugeot has pulled off a very fine, daring exercise in style. They interpreted the rules correctly. And the 9X8 is a very good example of what we expected in Hypercar. »

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