It wasn’t that long ago that Lola was the only company making closed-cockpit LMP2 prototypes. But with Lola gone belly-up, there’s a whole new generation of them on their way – and this is the first.
It’s called the Ligier JS P217 and was just unveiled at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit following extensive testing at Magny-Cours (the former home of the F1 racing in France). It was designed and built by Le Mans-based chassis constructor Onroak Automotive, which uses the Ligier name under license. It bears the initials of Guy Ligier’s longtime friend, Jo Schlesser (who died in a crash at the 1968 French Grand Prix), with the P2 connoting its class and 17 for the year it’s being rolled out.
The JS P217 is designed to meet the latest regulations for the class issued by the FIA, ACO, and IMSA, and set to take effect next season. It packs a 4.0-liter V8 engine rated at 600 horsepower and supplied by British engine constructor Gibson Technology. By design, it stretches a little longer than the hybrid LMP1s campaigned by Audi, Porsche, and Toyota, but sits just as wide, and (despite the lack of electric powertrain components) weighs slightly more at just over 2,000 lbs.
This same chassis will form the basis for the Nissan-powered entry to be fielded by Tequila Patrón ESM in the DPi class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Rival constructors Dallara, Oreca, and Riley/Multimatic are also developing closed-cockpit LMP2 chassis as the four sole constructors licensed by the regulatory bodies to do so, and will form the backbone of the prototype racing class on grids from Sebring to Fuji to La Sarthe.