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LMDH-Hypercar Convergence Technical Details Released (Updated)

LMH cars to be eligible for IMSA competition?

UPDATE: The bottom of this news item features commentary from DSC, including a statement immediately following this news from Porsche.

Further information on the forthcoming ACO-IMSA LMDh-LMH (global) platforms has been revealed publicly, along with confirmation that technical details were delivered to (“more than a dozen”) automotive manufacturers and chassis constructors that are interested in competing in either formula last week.

The global description of the LMDh platform is as follows:

– LMDh is a common car created by ACO-IMSA and able to race in both WEC and IMSA
– LMDh based on a cost-capped car and will have the same spine (spine = complete car without bodywork, engine, hybrid) as the next generation of LMP2 cars
– Only mainstream automotive manufacturers (associated with one of the four chassis constructors) can homologate an LMDh car

The cars will feature manufacturer branded and stylised bodywork, a manufacturer-branded engine, a common single source rear-wheel drive hybrid system and a minimum homologation period of five (5) years.

The basis of the joint regulations to govern the new LMDh category is comprised of the following points:

– Minimum car weight at 1030 kg, a figure that is higher than initially expected, to accommodate the variety of power train and hybrid options for the Le Mans Hypercars
– 500 kW peak of combined power (sum of power resulting from internal combustion engine (ICE) and hybrid system)
– One bodywork package with identical aerodynamic performance
– Single tyre supplier (i.e. Michelin)
– Global BOP to harmonise the overall performance of the LMDh and LMH cars

It is intended that the top category of competition for the WEC, which has the 24 Hours of Le Mans as its cornerstone event, will integrate Le Mans Daytona h with Le Mans Hypercar race cars to ensure convergence leads to similar car performance parameters for both technical rule sets.

Meanwhile, IMSA will welcome LMDh cars while being open to LMH participation from mainstream automotive manufacturers once performance at IMSA circuits can be further validated. It, therefore, appears that boutique brands (such as Glickenhaus and ByKolles) will not be eligible to race in IMSA and therefore not feature at its major races such as the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hours. Though more clarification is certainly needed.

The statement from the ACO and IMSA states that the target remains to have LMDh cars racing from the 2022 FIA WEC and IMSA seasons onwards. “However,” the statement reads, “this timeline will clearly need to be further validated in partnership with the automotive manufacturers, chassis constructors and key suppliers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to determine if a delayed introduction becomes necessary.”

The full and final technical regulations are due to be released around the time of the 2020 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours in September.

Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO said: “Officially launched in Daytona in January, the ACO-IMSA convergence is now entering an important phase in its implementation. We are unveiling the basic technical details of this new LMDh category which will the same car being allowed to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, without any modification necessary to the car.

“The dream of many manufacturers is finally coming true. Le Mans Daytona h and Le Mans Hypercar will embody the top category of endurance racing. This is a historic and decisive moment for the future of our discipline. ”

Ed Bennett, IMSA CEO added: “We have reached another key milestone with the release of our draft technical regulations for LMDh. There is still more work to be done, but the positive spirit of collaboration between the ACO and IMSA, as well as our four constructors and many interested manufacturers, has been fantastic and truly unprecedented. These regulations provide a roadmap for manufacturers and constructors to embark on the design process for new LMDh race cars that will revolutionise the top category of premier sports car racing around the globe.”

“Since the coronavirus pandemic, the way in which motorsport will be thought about in the future has undoubtedly been affected,” Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship continues. “Our strategy for LMDh is to try to find the best answer to manufacturers’ technical and competitive wishes, as well as offering them the greatest global visibility for their brands. The top category of the competition will now include low cost, high performing cars which respond to the needs of both our respective championships.”

John Doonan, IMSA President concludes: “As these technical regulations will attest, LMDh is a logical and appropriate next step to follow the successful Daytona Prototype international (DPi) in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“The LMDh will retain many attributes that led to the success of DPi, but the addition of relevant technologies and the convergence of regulations with the ACO opens the door for more manufacturers to participate in the future. We could not be more proud of the instrumental role our IMSA technical team played alongside their counterparts at the ACO to deliver these regulations.”

DSC says:

“This is a very positive announcement, especially during these troubled times. To give manufacturers as many options as possible, to either design their own chassis or opt for a cost-capped LMP2-based solution may go a long way in securing the future for this global solution.

“The added detail surrounding the eligibility of LMH cars in IMSA is also welcome, and a sensible option. More clarification is needed for the wording we currently have, to define a ‘mainstream OEM’. For instance, will Jim Glickenhaus be able to campaign his LMH car in what is after all his home marketplace?

“Now we wait to see which manufacturers step up to the plate. There are plenty in play, some surprising, some less so. In the immediate aftermath of this announcement Porsche has already posted a positive comment, Fritz Enzinger stating: “ACO and IMSA have fulfilled our expectations. It’ll be possible to compete for overall victories in the most important endurance series with one vehicle. We’re now getting underway with concept study commissioned by our board of directors”

“Who else will follow?”