The new LMP3 class is beginning to take shape, with several chassis manufacturers getting in on the action. The latest is Ligier along with simulation software company Exa Corporation, which introduced its new JS P3 LMP3-class racer this week at Le Mans. Ligier adds its name to the roster of Ginetta and LAS Motorsport, who are among the manufacturers already committed to LMP3.

The new car uses lessons learned from the Ligier JS P2 car (currently used by Extreme Speed Motorsports, Oak Racing and Krohn Racing), and applies them to a low-cost package. Exa’s simulation software has been used to shape the car’s aerodynamics and optimize cooling for the brakes, engine and closed cockpit. It’s visually similar to the Ligier LMP2 car, but smaller, in accordance with the rules. The ACO hasn’t finalized a weight for the class, but it should come in somewhere between 1,900 and 2,000 pounds.

Like all other LMP3 cars, power comes courtesy of a spec Nissan V-8 putting out around 420 horsepower, coupled with a six-speed sequential gearbox and Magneti Marelli engine management system. Oreca will sell the drivetrains and other running gear as a package to all LMP3 teams and provide race support.

Continue reading to learn more about the Exa Ligier JS P3 Le Mans Prototype 3.

Why it matters

The LMP3 class slots in below LMP2 as a low-cost point of entry into Le Mans-style prototype racing. With the costs increasing in LMP1, and to a lesser degree in LMP2, the ACO (the governing body for Le Mans and the WEC) recognized the need for a newer, more-affordable prototype class. It aims to keep costs for new LMP3 cars below €195,000 (about $220,000) and annual running costs at around €450,000 ($500,000) per season.

So, when and where can we expect to see the Ligier JS P3 racing? Though LMP3 cars won’t be eligible for the WEC or 24 Hours of Le Mans, both the European and Asian Le Mans Series have already begun accepting LMP3 entries. Here in the U.S., the Tudor United SportsCar Championship is also look at the LMP3 class as a possible replacement for the Prototype Challenge class.

Press Release

Exa® Corporation, the leading innovator of simulation software for product design and engineering, and its customer in France, Onroak Automotive, unveiled an all-new LMP3 sports prototype racing car today (Thursday) at Le Mans.

Called Ligier JS P3, the new LIGIER has been conceived to compete in the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s new Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) category which gives teams and drivers a new entry point into Le Mans-style endurance racing.The Ligier JS P3 was designed using Exa’s PowerFLOW® simulation software to optimize its aerodynamics, as well as maximize cabin comfort and cool both the engine and brakes with new levels of efficiency.

Working together with Onroak Automotive from the conception of the Ligier JS P3, Exa’s engineers focused on achieving the ideal front/rear aerodynamic balance with the optimalrelationship between downforce and drag, contributing to develop a fatigue-reducing cabin environment, and keeping three crucial race-winning elements cool – the driver, engine and brakes. Simulation-driven design allowed Onroak Automotiveand Exa to quickly assess a variety of engineering solutions to design challenges in a much shorter timeframe than would have been possible with a traditional wind tunnel-dependent design process.

Exa’s experience working with passenger cars and airflow management within their interiors enabled it to create a cooler cabin for the Ligier JS P3. In addition, the car’s drivers will also be able to wear an all-new innovative ‘cool suit’ developed by Stand 21 to help keep them comfortable.

“Our engineering department worked with Exa’s engineers and their expertise in CFD (computational fluid dynamics) have helped us reach the levels of performance and efficiency we are targeting with the use of this simulation-driven design technology. The Ligier JS P3 is directly inspired by the Ligier JS P2 – the LM P2 model on which both Exa and Onroak Automotive previously worked together – withsuperior aerodynamicperformance among a range of requirements. Thanks to this experience and knowledge, the two teams have been able to transfer to the Ligier JS P3 the DNA of this LM P2 car, which went through several successive validations between CFD simulations from Exa, wind tunnel tests and correlations on the track. We are confident that ourLigier JS P3 will establish itself as best-in-class among the new LM P3 racers.” commented Jacques Nicolet, President ofOnroak Automotive.

Exa’s PowerFLOW software – already used by almost all of the majorpassenger-car manufacturers around the world – as well as the company’s previous experience gathered with the Ligier JS P2, were keyto Onroak Automotive achieving significant advances with its Ligier JS P3 racer. The collaboration also removed the need for costly and time consuming wind tunnel and track testing development work. TheLigier JS P3 is the latest example of PowerFLOW being used in the design and development of a race car.

Speaking at the Ligier JS P3 unveiling, Stephane Letot, Exa Managing Director WesternEurope, stated: “The simulations and predictions we made at an early stage with Onroak Automotive’sLMP2 race car have proved to be very accurate in relation to the real car on the track. Now, PowerFLOW has enabled OnroakAutomotiveand Exa’s engineers to capitalize on that LMP2 work and perform airflow simulations both over the exterior and within the all-newLigier JS P3’scabin, engine bay and wheel arches – tests that you simply cannot do within the same cost and time constraints in a wind tunnel. Exa has enjoyed a highly productive relationship with the OnroakAutomotiveengineering team and thanks to our simulation-driven design, both partners are certain that the newLigier JS P3 will be a significant challenger for top honors in the new LM P3 race category.”

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