I hate Balance of Performance (BoP) in racing. I know it is a necessary evil, without it manufacturers are far less likely to go racing. But the down side to BoP is how bad it can be when organizers get it wrong. And Believe you me, the ACO got their BoP calculations way wrong. After the Le Mans test day they made sweeping changes to the GTE Pro class apparently based on the data they collected. Completely ignoring the data from the 2 previous WEC races. The end result was the turbocharged Ford and Ferrari wiping their competition out in Le Mans Qualifying. The ACO has responded but announcing yet more BoP changes to try to fix their mistake.
The Ford GT’s which qualified 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, have received an extra 10 kilos (22 pounds) of ballast, moving the four cars up to 1248 kgs (2751 lbs). The big pre-race BoP adjustment is the removal of boost pressure throughout the twin-turbo V6’s rev range from 4200-7000 rpms. Only the Ford’s peak 7100 rpm range was left untouched.
Ferrari, and their new turbocharged V8 was given an extra 25 kilos (55 pounds) ballast. Boost pressure was left alone. Ferrari qualified 3rd, sixth and seventh. The 488s also received and extra four liters of fuel capacity.
The NA cars were given a performance boost. Porsche gets an increase in fuel capacity by eight liters. Aston’s V8 Vantages received an 0.4 mm opening of its air restrictors, to increase power and torque. The Corvette C7.Rs received a 0.3 mm air restrictor break, but the team only has restrictors in hand that would allow a 0.2 mm break. Corvette was also given a 7 liter increase in fuel capacity.
“It’s a move in the right direction,” Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan told RACER.com. “The (0.3 mm) is enough of an improvement that we need to find a solution because we only have restrictors that will get us (0.2 mm).”
BoP is here to stay whether we like it or not. Just the nature of the beast these days. Where there is BoP there will be teams trying to exploit it to their advantage. As they absolutely should mind you. However for the ACO to get caught out this badly is unacceptable. This is an organization in charge of running a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. In North America’s premier sportscar series, IMSA, there are measures in place to prevent pre-race sandbagging. Data loggers that motor not only lap times, also things like throttle position boost levels. One BoP trick is to come into the pits while on a fast lap. Basically the team tells the driver to go flat-out but come into the pits, thus slowing the lap time and not disclosing the car’s true potential. IMSA implements countermeasures for this as well. Furthermore, the penalty for sandbagging is severe. I’m not saying it is a perfect solution but with the different varieties of cars racing these days it is a start. The ACO could learn a lesson so we can talk about the racing and the flat-out battle for victory. Not which team played the BoP game better.