McLaren and Porsche are still looking at the potential of competing in the top class of sports car racing in the foreseeable future, and they are pushing for a global platform that would enable Le Mans Hypercars and DPi 2.0 cars to compete together.
In Bahrain for this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship round, Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, and Pascal Zurlinden, the head of Porsche factory motorsport, both expressed similar views on how sportscar racing should look by the time DPi 2.0 debuts in 2022.
“(A global formula), I think that’s a big win for sports car racing around the world. So I’m very supportive of it and a co-aligning around a common set of rules,” Brown told RACER. “I wouldn’t say it’s mandatory (for McLaren to take part in the FIA WEC). I think our biggest concern is the current budgets.
“We have a great program in North America now with IndyCar,” he continued. “So where we really want to be is the WEC — we’d love to race IMSA, if that was on a common platform, but wouldn’t race IMSA as a standalone, because our North American marketplace is covered by our IndyCar program.
“So for us, it’s about wanting to be in sportscars, because we’re a sportscar company. But geographically what makes most sense for us is the World Endurance touching other parts of the world. But if they land on a common platform, then I could see us racing in both.
Brown thinks that the ideal program for McLaren would see it race in the WEC primarily, with selected IMSA races. “I could see us doing Daytona, Sebring and Petit,” he said, although he added that a full IMSA campaign as a semi-works effort or as part of a customer program would also be a possibility.
As for the chassis it would use, Brown said it would need to feature “McLaren DNA, something that we can’t have with IMSA currently in DPi, with engine, gearbox, hybrid.” Perhaps including elements of the McLaren Senna GTR track day car (pictured above).
Budgets are a key factor here, as Brown can see “Toyota spending over 40 million” on its WEC Hypercar program. If McLaren was to jump in it would need assurances that it could be competitive with a common chassis and hybrid system from the DPi 2.0 regulations, rather than design and build a car from scratch for the WEC formula. It would be styled on a platform that doesn’t currently exist in McLaren’s automotive range.
When will McLaren make a decision? That’s an unknown at this point, in part because the DPi 2.0 regulations have not been finalized.
“We aren’t pressured for time. If we were to join in in 2021/22, we would need to announce soon, though,” Brown said.
Porsche is taking a similar wait-and-see approach, but is keen on playing a part. Zurlinden told RACER the company would certainly be taking a look if there was a global solution similar to what currently exists with GTE/GTLM.
“If you can build one race car and run both sides of the Atlantic — that’s what we do with the GT,” he pointed out. “So we would just have to have a closer look at the costs. If you can really build one car for locals and race with both sides of the Atlantic, it’s definitely an option.”
How likely is a global platform as it stands?
“It’s as close as it’s ever been,” Brown said to RACER.
FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu agreed, telling RACER in Bahrain, “We wouldn’t be working as hard as we are if we didn’t think it (a global solution) was possible.”