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Vanwall working on 2025 WEC comeback with heavily-revised Hypercar

Having not been granted a spot on the 19-car Hypercar grid for the 2024 season amid the arrival of Lamborghini, BMW and Alpine, among others, Vanwall is pressing ahead with plans to make a comeback next year, team boss Colin Kolles told Autosport sister title

The German outfit's Le Mans Hypercar will undergo a major upgrade for its planned return, with the biggest change being the introduction of Pipo Motors' 3.5-litre V8 twin-turbo engine that previously powered the Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH.

Vanwall has been hamstrung by the naturally-aspirated 4.5-litre Gibson motor, which was unable to reliably achieve the required power output allowed under the Balance of Performance system.

According to Kolles, the Gibson engine lacked up to 60kW or 80bhp, severely compromising its straightline performance.

By contrast, the Pipo engine had originally been built for Hypercar regulations requiring power outputs of up to 850hp - a figure that was later reduced in the wake of the LMH-LMDh convergence. The engine is therefore over-engineered for the required maximum of 520kW and not under-engineered like its predecessor.

Such a major change has far-reaching consequences on the design of the Vanwall LMH. While the monocoque is kept the same to avoid new crash tests, almost everything that can be changed on the periphery has been altered.

This includes the addition of an intercooler to the air intake and cooling system, plus an exhaust that has a different exit angle to the Gibson unit. As a result, various changes have to be made to the bodywork, which in turn affect the aerodynamics.

In addition, Vanwall will optimise the aerodynamics independently in order to make better use of the specified performance windows.

Coupled with the new engine, a new gearbox is also being installed to the car, which has seven forward gears instead of six. This requires a complete overhaul of the electronics and a reinstallation of the hardware components. The Cosworth control unit will also be brought to the latest specification.

Another major innovation is  the introduction of a brake-by-wire system, which is intended to provide more stability in braking zones, while brake discs and pads with different specifications will be used. This, along with changes to the engine and transmission cooling, will also result in adjustments to the brake cooling.

The mechanical components have also been scrutinised, including a new steering system that is accompanied by a new suspension geometry. However, this has less to do with the engine than with the experience gained during the 2023 WEC season.

The decision to switch power units, with all its consequences, was made in the late summer of 2023 after the engine failures at Le Mans and Monza. Originally, Vanwall wanted to have the car ready for the Qatar 1812Km opener of 2024.

However, following the rejection of its entry for the WEC 2024, the costly express production of the components was halted.

The rollout of the updated car, which is currently under construction, is imminent, according to Kolles.

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier, Ryan Briscoe (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

Another hurdle for Vanwall's WEC return is the planned rule change for 2025 that requires each manufacturer to field two cars. Kolles is very much in support of this change, having fielded just one car in 2023, and would also be prepared to bring two cars to the starting line.

Of course, the more challenging part will be to convince the WEC selection committee to consider the team again after its lacklustre performance in 2023. The WEC is planning to increase the number of grid slots for Hypercar and LMGT3 cars to 40 for 2025.

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