Spanish Formula Renault Team, AVF have posted a photo of their new Dallara P217 LMP2 chassis. The AVF LMP2 car is largely still in plain carbon, but has the teams logo and trademark red up the nose.
AVF, formely known as AV Formula, is more commonly known for European single seater racing. The LMP2 Dallara P217, presumably for the European Le Mans Series, would be the teams first sports car project. The team are due to test the car today with Portuguese Formula Renault driver Henrique Chaves.
AVF has close ties with SMP Racing, running the teams World Series by Renault V8 3.5 effort. The drivers for the SMP/AVF joint effort were Egor Orudzhev and Matevos Isaakyan, who made quite an impact in the European Le Mans Series with a surprise victory at Paul Ricard. With SMP moving up to LMP1, it appears AVF are taking the opportunity to move into sports car racing.
It’s good news for those worried that 2018 would see a drop in numbers and variety in ELMS. DragonSpeed have announced they are to continue in ELMS, alongside the WEC P1 project, and Duqueine moving up to LMP2 with an unnamed chassis after their merger with Norma.
Dallara over ORECA?
The Dallara P217 blew hot and cold in 2017. SMP Racing took a win at Paul Ricard, where the car was balanced well, showed good speed and excellent fuel mileage. The P217 appears to have a very narrow operating window, making it difficult to setup. The low downforce body-kit was unfortunately a bit of a lemon, taking it far outside of the setup window.
Dallara were initially granted a joker upgrade to the low downforce kit but appealed to be allowed to upgrade both kits. The issue, according to Dallara, was a part that was shared between the two kits. It is understood it’s the splitter that was the common part, and without updating the splitter they would not be able to close the performance gap to the ORECA 07. The ACO agreed with Dallara and allowed the upgrade. Although it will probably not making the P217 significantly faster, it may make it an easier car to work with.
The inclusion of another Dallara chassis is welcome by those worried that the number of ORECAs will reach critical mass. For ELMS at least, the variety is still pretty good with 3 out of the 4 chassis being represented.
Some points to take from this. Firstly, despite the increased costs of the new generation LMP2 cars, it still appears as though established single seater teams are finding it a viable option. There was a worry that the new cars would kill off the new found success of the LMP2 class, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Secondly, it’s not an ORECA. ORECA make fantastic cars and they’ve got a great history at Le Mans, but Le Mans needs variety. OK, you could argue that variety was fine in ELMS anyway, but the Dallara was a little under represented compared to the front running ORECAs and Ligiers. We’re still waiting on the day a Riley appears on the ELMS grid though.