The next stage in the road towards a new top prototype class for the FIA World Endurance Championship was reached today as the FIA Motorsport Council, at its meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, discussed and approved the proposal from the ACO and IMSA to produce a new class of prototype cars and to combine those cars with the current plans to field a further new class — Le Mans Hypercars — in the FIA WEC from the 2021/22 season.
The new cars — provisionally named LMDh for Le Mans Daytona ‘H’ as there is no formal agreement yet on the full moniker — are set to be based on a new generation of chassis, to be built by manufacturers ORECA, Ligier, Multimatic and Dallara. They will feature high-power internal combustion engines and a ‘mild’ spec hybrid system, both driving the rear axle only.
Those same chassis will form the basis of the next generation of LMP2 cars (without hybrid power) from 2022, with the LMDh cars also forming the top class in IMSA competition from the start of the 2022 season.
The plan is designed to attract more manufacturer entries, plus privateer customer teams, into both WEC and IMSA competition by providing a cost-capped chassis and lower-budget powertrain solution than the current LMP1 and future Le Mans Hypercar alternatives.
The process offers the prospect of combined top-class grids for some of the major races in the endurance racing calendar including the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The convergence between the two classes of car for the WEC will require a complex Balance of Performance process to ensure that the differing powertrain and aero aspects of the cars can be controlled to provide a level playing field.
IMSA has not yet committed to accepting the Le Mans Hypercars into the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship.
More details of the convergence process are set to be revealed during the joint IMSA/WEC ‘Super Sebring’ race meeting in two weeks’ time.