The president of the group responsible for organising the Le Mans 24-hour race believes future zero-emission LMP1 drivetrains will speed up the development of sustainable road cars.
Speaking at the race that proceeds this year’s Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Spa, ACO president Pierre Fillon said he believes LMP1 manufacturers are already a leading force in developing hybrid systems and that emission-free drivetrains are next.
“Le Mans is important not just for racing, but also the future of mobility,” he explained. “The future of mobility is zero-emission, so Le Mans must be the same.”
Fillon therefore wants future racing regulations to focus on cutting costs in areas not relevant to road cars, such as downforce-producing aerodynamics and to encourage teams to develop more efficient technology that is.
“We have already seen this with the fuel [flow] limit,” said Fillon. “And we have limited the amount of development time allowed in a wind tunnel, so it is something we already do.”
Fillon believes the future of Le Mans and the WEC will involve both battery electric and hydrogen racers, but that hybrid systems will remain the most effective choice for several more years.
He attributes Audi and its advances in diesel racing technology to the saving of “millions of tons of oil globally” in road transport. “Our rule making must continue to centre around encouraging the development of this type of mobility technology.”
When asked if he could ever see robotic cars racing with drivers in a bid to develop driverless technology, Fillon said he didn’t think there was space for such cars at Le Mans right now. "For me, Le Mans is absolutely about the drivers,” he said. “But long term, who knows?”