A short turnaround has  in catching up mode as the team expedited its engine change for the FIA WEC -Francorchamps. 

ByKolles made the decision to change the engine in the CLM P1/01 LMP1 from the 3.0 litre NISMO V6 to a V8 unit sourced from Gibson Technologies, the same unit found in both of Rebellion Racing’s R13s.

The 4.5 litre GL458 V8 engine is derived from the 4.2 litre unit used currently in all LMP2 prototypes.

Tom Dillmann, sharing the car with Oliver Webb and Paolo Ruberti, said a powertrain change of this magnitude this close to a race weekend was no small feat.

“We changed the engine this weekend,” said Dillmann after qualifying on Friday. “The team finished very late – they finished this week basically, so we didn’t drive the car at all on the race track, so we are really behind. The car is not working at all – very far off.

“Because we had to redesign the suspension etc, [the performance] is really far off the window. With the conditions – FP1 we had to check that everything was running fine. Then FP2 was wet so we couldn’t do a lot of work.”

While the ByKolles LMP1 moved up to P6 overall in the rainy conditions during free practice 2, Dillmann said it was more down to the driver rather than outright performance from the car.

“In the wet as a driver you can make more difference. Usually I’m quite OK in the wet – I hope it’s wet tomorrow because I can do something… But you never know! Very easy to go off as well. Especially in these conditions, it’s very difficult to bring the temperature in the tyres.

“It will be tricky for everybody, especially if there is safety car, full course yellow. The temperature will drop massively and it will be very hard to recover temperature. It will be a very tricky race.”

Dillmann remained hopeful that the ubiquity of the Gibson engine in the World Endurance Championship will translate to better reliability. Any potential gains in performance however remained to be seen.

“The team decided to switch to Gibson for their reasons – It’s not my decision, so we try to optimize this package. Hopefully I think the Gibson has proven with many cars on track that they can be reliable.

“When you have many LMP2 and many LMP1 on the track to make an engine which is more reliable, so it seems they managed to do that.

“Performance wise it’s hard to say what is better but time will tell.”

Images: Michelin Motorsport