Bourdais warns against dumbing down GTE for Aston Martin

Injured Ford driver Sebastien Bourdais has expressed his frustration at what he perceives to be a dumbing down of Le Mans’ GTE Pro class to level the playing field for Aston Martin.

Bourdais warns against dumbing down GTE for Aston Martin
#95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage: Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen, Richie Stanaway
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Pipo Derani
#71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Davide Rigon, Sam Bird, Miguel Molina
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
#95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage: Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen, Richie Stanaway
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Olivier Pla, Stefan Mücke, Billy Johnson
#69 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
2017 Ford GT
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Olivier Pla, Stefan Mücke, Billy Johnson

The British marque holds provisional pole for the French endurance classic after Wednesday night's first qualifying session, Marco Sorensen setting the pace with a 3m52.117s lap in the #95 Vantage GTE he shares with Nicki Thiim and Richie Stanaway.

Sorensen's lap was enough to beat the best of the AF Corse-run Ferrari 488s, the #71 car, by a tenth of a second, while the best of the Chip Ganassi-run Fords, the #67, was two seconds off the pace in fifth place.

But Bourdais, whose Indianapolis 500 injuries ruled him out of defending his Le Mans class title, believes it's wrong that the Vantage – whose roots can be traced back to 2008 – can be allowed to outpace rivals that are some eight or nine years newer.

He said it was "frustrating" for marques like Ford to have inherently faster cars being pegged back through Balance of Performance changes to the level of the slowest car in class, rather than other competitors being given performance breaks.

"At some point there should be a healthy dose of raising the level rather than trying to bring it down," Bourdais told Motorsport.com.

"When you start having prototypes going 25 seconds faster than the next class in line at Le Mans, maybe it's more dangerous to those guys going that fast and us going that slow in relation.

"Ultimately it's always cheaper and easier to make a slower car than to make a fast car, but for the guys who spend the money and do a good job it's awfully frustrating to see their car taken down to a low level.

"We always take the example of the Aston Martin. How in hell is it OK to say a Ford GT should only be going the same pace as the Aston Martin?

"Aston Martin have had basically the same bloody car for how many years now? Eight? 10?

"They're trying to balance performance between cars that probably aren't comparable even if they came from the same era."

Road car power discrepancy

Bourdais also questioned why the Ford GT is only allowed to produce around 500bhp, a significant amount less than its road-going equivalent – which produces 647bhp – under the current BoP rules.

"My other problem is that the [Ford GT] race car makes 150hp less than the road car, which pains me deeply," said the Frenchman.

"Because when I have someone from the public ask me, 'How much power has your car got?' it pains me to say that it makes 150bhp less than the car he can buy at the dealership.

"That's definitely something the governing bodies are going to have to look closely at, because it is not right."

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