LMP Coupes - The return of Group C?
In 2007, Peugeot re-entered sportscar racing with their challenge to the Audi R10, the 908.
Another diesel powered car, it was radically different to the Audi in that it was a coupe, bearing a striking similarity to the Group C cars of the 80s and early 90s.
A large part of the reason for the design was that the ACO (Le Mans organisers) had announced that for 2010, the LMP1 class would feature only coupes.
As time progressed, they have back tracked from this, permitting open cars, like the Audis and Pescarolos to continue to race, but an interesting and increasingly competitive collection of LMP1 Coupes have appeared.
Aside from the Peugeot, the most competitive (so far) has been the Charouz entered Lola Aston Martin.
Lola Aston LMP1/08
Powered by an Aston V12 engine from the GT1 DBR9, the Lola was immediately the fastest of the petrol cars in the opening round of the 2008 LMS, finishing an impressive 3rd as some of the Audi and Peugeot runners developed problems.
Niggling problems delayed the car at Monza and Spa, but not before it had shown impressive pace again, running close to the Diesel works cars.
The earliest other LMP Coupe was the Epsilon Euskadi LMP1. Appearing in unpainted black carbon, the Spanish built car is probably the most attractive of the LMP1 coupes so far and runs a Judd V10 engine.
Epsilon Euskadi LMP1
However, it has failed to show front running form so far and remains a bit of an unknown quantity.
Japanese Le Mans irregualars Dome (I first saw a Dome run at Le Mans in 1979!) announced an LMP1 coupe for 2008 and it appeared at the June 1st Le Mans test day where it ran fast enough to be 11th fastest car.
Dome S102 design
Powered by a Judd V10 engine, the Dome S102 ran in plain white at the Le Mans test day, but the team announced their aim was a top 6 finish in the 24 hour race.
Another manufacturer promising an LMP1 coupe are Radical, whose LMP2 car has shown prodigious speed (especially in the hands of Martin Short's team in the past).
Artist's impression of the Radical LMP1
So far there is only a artist's impression to go on, but it promises to be a good looking car, if nothing else.
2006 Lexus Daytona Prototype
Of course, Daytona has been running a coupe only top class for a number of years, but the cars (especially in the early days, but even now) are designed to be 'low cost' and feature high, wide windscreens which make them look rather awkward and bulky.
It looks like Group C might be on the way back and sportscar racing looks all the better for it!
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