Gibson Technology relishing LMP2 challenge

A new era for LMP2 gets underway at the 6 Hours of Silverstone this weekend, with teams acclimatising not only to new chassis regulations, but new engines too.

British manufacturer Gibson Technology will be the single engine supplier of LMP2 teams in the FIA World Endurance Championship until 2020, and its latest creation, a 4.2 litre 600 BHP V8, is expected to reduce laptimes in LMP2 by several seconds compared to last year.

The GK428 unit has undergone extensive development since December 2015 to be ready for the first round of the WEC, culminating with a successful two days of testing at the WEC’s Monza Prologue last week.

“We were contractually obliged to deliver the first four engines on August 15th and then they went to the chassis manufacturers,” explained commercial director James Hibbert.

“Since then, we’ve gone over the 100,000 km marker. We’ve had a lot of testing, but we’ve also had the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours, which were both quite significant events for us.”

Gibson Technology has extensive experience of supplying single-make engines in its former guise as Zytek Engineering and is continually innovating to produce more powerful and durable products at a manageable cost.

The GK428 has been developed to last for 50 hours or 8,000 km on average, almost three times more than was possible 20 years ago.

“We’ve had engines running on our test and development programme in excess of 50 hours as a means to monitor performance and degradation so on, which is not something that’s been done before with a thoroughbred racing engine,” said senior project manager Bob Barker.

“Prior to any engines going in the cars, we’d already exceeded that 50 hour limit on a single engine, so were very confident that level of performance can be maintained throughout the life of an engine.”

In addition to the technical challenge, Gibson Technology also faces the not insignificant task of maintaining the fleet, as teams start from zero and will need servicing at roughly the same point.

“From start to finish, to build a brand new engine takes maybe 350-400 hours,” said Hibbert. “Then once all the cars have got engines, then we can start to build up a pool and then it’s going to be a lot easier to manage.

“We’re putting big hours in and doing lots of overtime, but that’s not unusual in motorsport.”

Logistics can also pose difficulties as Gibson Technology will supply three different championships at Silverstone, but Barker is confident of being able to cope with the demand.

Certainly at Silverstone we’ve got three championships to supply there, so there will be a truck in the WEC paddock, one in the ELMS paddock and another support vehicle for the Formula V8 3.5 people as well,” added Barker.

“But it’s an honour to do this and we’re up for the challenge. We’ve provided single make engines for many years in the lesser categories, so we feel that we’re well placed to be able to offer the FIA and the LMP2 customers a five star product.”