By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
IMSA and the ACO have announced a preliminary set of rules that will see sports car teams be able to compete in both 24 hour races at Daytona and Le Mans in the same prototype car.
The new category, called LMDh (Le Mans, Daytona, yet to be identified h), is built around both IMSA’s DPi and the ACO’s Hypercar formula. From the IMSA release, the new LMDh car:
“Based on a new chassis common to both ACO and IMSA, using elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis, and built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2.”
This means that a team will be able to enter the top class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and in the FIA World Endurance Championship with minimal changes between the two championships. Cars will adhere to a balance of performance system.
“It’s going to be a single set of global regulations, which is magical,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “It’s absolutely transforming that a manufacturer could decide to race in the WeatherTech Championship knowing that they have the opportunity to compete at Le Mans on a global scale as well as a team that perhaps running in the World Endurance Championship to come to Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans and be able to compete.
“I feel like a little kid right now because this truly harkens back to the days of IMSA GTP cars going to Le Mans and Le Mans entrants coming here to Daytona,” Doonan added.
Both IMSA and the ACO had their own prototype regulations in place before today’s announcement. IMSA brought about their Daytona Prototype International formula for 2017 while the ACO announced Hypercar regulations to replace the current LMP1 class for the World Endurance Championship to debut in late 2020.
“We are opening a new chapter of endurance racing here, today,” said Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO. “We have been working together on this for some time and convergence will offer manufacturers, partners, media and the fans a fantasitc opportunity to see the best racing in the most prestigious events on both sides of the Atlantic. I think it’s the right time for this to happen and we are very proud to be here today.”
There are still questions to be answered about how the formula will be implemented. There will be a hybrid system in the LMDh category, but engine formulas and other powertrain details are uncertain. There will be more details forthcoming at Sebring in March, but all signs are looking ahead to a common top class platform for 2022.