We’re in the midst of one of the now regular feeding frenzies of stories doing the rounds about the current state of play with the top echelons of endurance racing.
The continuing saga of ‘Hypercar’ and its knock-on effects further down the feeding chain rumbles along.
Toyota are plugging away with the development of the race version of the road going GR Concept, the road car’s prototype already seen testing earlier this year, the race version some little way behind but seemingly on track for a post Le Mans 2020 trek debut – very, very tight indeed for the start of the 2020/21 FIA WEC season.
Aston Martin’s Valkyrie project has been quiet of late – hopefully to allow progress since the ‘dynamic’ debut of the car at Silverstone, a much needed confidence boost in the programme, but with much to do in the background before the first cars are handed over to their owners, promised in just a few week’s time.
Beyond that there’s the race car project, in the hands of the extremely able Multimatic organisation – the good news confirmed some weeks ago is that “More than two” announced at the project’s launch at Le Mans has been clarified as “at least four” race cars set for a full WEC commitment, with R-Motorsport joining the factory effort in planning to field a pair apiece. Paddock rumours that it could even be more than four have been talked down by senior sources, perhaps mindful that the deadline to get cars on track is challenging enough with the current commitments.
The Glickenhaus programme continues meanwhile, Jim Glickenhaus sharing outline details with DSC some weeks ago of the proposed time-frame to see his (likely Alfa-engined) first of a planned two car effort on track. He too is looking at an early summer 2020 track test debut.
The story broken by our friends at Le Maine Libre over the weekend that ORECA may have found an opportunity to link with Peugeot in a customer-based Hypercar project revolve around a number of open questions – Are Rebellion ready to commit to the new formula? Is Peugeot interested? And, if it did happen, when could a car reasonably expect to emerge?
The answers appear to be: Not at all certain, Who knows, and highly unlikely for anything before year two.
There are though other realities at play with ORECA, no assumption should be made that their preferred customer partner is Rebellion, Hugues de Chaunac and co. are smarter than most – others may well be waiting in the wings!
Stories of interest from Porsche and Bentley ebb and flow, but are unlikely to come to fruition before the fiscal impacts of the dieselgate saga are absorbed by VAG unless a programme can become a profit, rather than cost, centred matter – Highly unlikely at present
Beyond that there’s the near-certainty too of grandfathered LMP1s, there’s an option there for Rebellion, and a likely take-up of the offer from Ginetta, the current privateers will know that the grandfathering process is unlikely to do them many favours, but they’ll know too that in the first knockings of a brand new formula, they are likely to have better reliability on their side vs the new cars, in particular bearing in mind the compressed timescale for their arrival.
There is again much chatter about the prospects of Hypercar and Dpi 2.0, due to launch in 2022, coming together somehow in a form of globalised harmony. We’ve been here before of course, budgets, disagreement over tech and, let’s be frank, more than a modest dose of unenlightened self-interest, getting in the way of a workable solution.
There is though a renewed drive to have another crack at breaking this particular Gordian Knot, and from more than one angle of attack.
There are certainly manufacturers still ready to push for a global formula, Ford and McLaren amongst them, and there are parties with serious influence within a number of relevant organisations that are actively working to find a solution.
The globalisation issue is not, in any way, a matter that stands to only profit one party either, both IMSA and the ACO/ WEC would likely find more takers if the regulatory walls came tumbling down, and any observers implying that DPi 2.0 is currently strong enough to withstand those pressures need to learn the lessons of recent history!
With the current constraints on the traditional OEMS not looking likely to be loosened any time soon, there’s surely a moment now to look again, to find reasons to do it, rather than not to do it! In the background, it may very well be closer than many think to taking a significant step forward.
Sebring in 2019 saw BMW’s Jens Marquardt take a stab at putting the potential for Class One, the new shape of DTYM and Super GT, back on the table for consideration for a role in the globalised debate on the future shape of top class endurance racing.
Background briefing at the time made it clear that IMSA was not minded to actively consider the formula, but that there may be lessons to be learned around the way in which Class One helped to control budgets with the use of standardised parts across all platforms, with a standard hybrid system in the near-future plans.
Media reports in the last couple of weeks suggest that Marquardt hasn’t given up his hopes of pushing for some sort of future for Class One in North America with IMSA invited to the DTM finale at Hockenheim with a clear intention to push the message that multiple major manufacturers are already heavily invested in the ruleset.
Again though US sources reject prospects for Class One having a role, certainly not as the top class, though other sources are suggesting that with the current low ebb in GTE Pro/ GTLM factory entrants, there might be at least a debate to be had over the future shape of top-class GT racing on an international scale, in particular bearing in mind the fact that the joint DTM/ Super GT grids number five factory-backed efforts (BMW, Audi, Honda, Nissan and Toyota, as well as the privately funded Aston Martin DTM effort).