Open Source LMP1 manufacturer Perrinn has cancelled plans for the 2018 LMP1 customer chassis and is refocusing the project on going electric. Now named Project 424, the LMP1 based car is enter into the 2019 Le Mans 24 hours in the Garage 56 experimental technologies class.
The customer announcement that was teased for the Le Mans 24 Hour failed to materialise, as the client pulled out of the deal. The project then ran into further complications so Perrinn appears to have taken the opportunity to aim higher. The ambitious new performance target retains the open source nature of the project, but ramps up the complexity significantly.
The car will have a 650 kW electric motor, split between 250 kW for the front wheels and 400 kW for the rear wheels, whilst the battery’s storage capacity is rated at 54 kWh. These numbers can seem a bit meaningless to motorsport fans, as we don’t tend to rate traditional engines in kilowatt, and the WEC uses megajoules rather than kilowatt hours to describe storage capacities. To give these numbers a bit of perspective, 650 kW is approximately 870 hp, whilst 54 kWh is around 195 MJ. For further perspective, the Tesla Model S P100D that Electric GT is using as a base for their series is rated at 567 kW (760 hp) and 100 kWh (360 MJ). So the car’s potential statistics are powerful, if a little low on the storage and range side.
How does this translate into on track performance? The stated aim of the car is it will be able to complete 3 consecutive laps every hour, including in and out laps at GTE pace, and a flying lap at LMP1 pace. The in and out laps will be using 350 kW of power, whilst the flying lap will be using the full 650 kW. This means each stint will be around 15 minutes long, and gives the car 45 minutes of “reconditioning” time in the pits. It is possible with consumer technology to charge a 100 kWh battery to full in 1 hour 45 minutes, so with a smaller battery and bespoke technology, charging the Perrinn 54 kWh battery in the 45 minute reconditioning time should be possible.
But the in lap is where things start getting a bit crazy. Perrinn aim for the car to complete the in lap in racing conditions, autonomously. The system will combine autonomous road car technology with pre-recorded racing driver inputs to create a safe system that will have the ability to bring the car back to the pits, and achieve this in a GTE lap time. Perrinn do say that the driver will be able to take back control of the car at any time to manage traffic, and in the case of an unpredictable situation.
There will no doubt be comments about the 45 minute pit stop, but it has to be kept in mind that this is experimental technology and does fit the ACO Garage 56 intention of encouraging innovative technology. The idea is to showcase the future, even if that future is in the early stages of development. But it has to be said that these goals are lofty, and lofty goals are often accompanied by significant budget requirements. Watch for further announcements from Perrinn in the coming months.