RACER has learned the Italian supercar constructor will become IMSA’s sixth LMDh manufacturer after recently greenlighting a factory prototype program in the upcoming hybrid formula due to start in 2023. The Lamborghini Squadra Corse effort is primed to debut in 2024 and will have a heavy emphasis on customer integration.
Lamborghini will join four publicly confirmed factory efforts from Acura, Audi, BMW and Porsche in IMSA’s top WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class; Cadillac is known to be readying the launch of its LMDh project in approximately two weeks — leading into the 24 Hours of Le Mans — where it will become IMSA’s fifth official LMDh program. In addition to a multi-car campaign for Lamborghini in IMSA, the FIA World Endurance Championship is also expected to receive multiple entries when the program goes live.
Formal confirmation of the Lamborghini endeavor, which will use the same chassis from Canada’s Multimatic that’s being built for Volkswagen Group stablemates Audi and Porsche, is said to be on the books for September.
“We are not 100 percent over the line, I can confirm that, but if I was to say we’re 90 percent of the way there, that would be pretty accurate,” Lamborghini senior motorsport manager Chris Ward told RACER. “We’ve got a couple of I’s to dot and T’s to cross with a couple of the main providers. That’s what has separated us from a lot of the manufacturers; historically, we don’t go factory racing in the way that you might see Porsche or others go factory racing. To get us all the way there, it’s going to take a customer effort behind it.
“But we’re in a fortunate position as a manufacturer to have the relationships and individuals among our existing and growing portfolio that could help us achieve that. So those are the elements that we’ve got to really get over the line with to make sure that it’s 100 percent.”
By no means a new development, Lamborghini’s upcoming participation in LMDh has been heavily anticipated as the Volkswagen Group were first to commit to LMDh with signature brands Porsche and Audi. RACER understands the strategy has been to establish Audi and Porsche in 2023 and meet all of the chassis supply, engine supply, and infrastructure needs before taking on a third factory effort campaign with Lamborghini in 2024.
Customer teams like GRT have been key to Lamborghini’s efforts to date in IMSA. Richard Dole/Motorsport Images
With the benefit of more than two years to find and align with customer teams, Ward says completing that task is the last significant hurdle to clear before a public confirmation of Lamborghini’s plans would be made. In light of the head start the first five LMDh manufacturers have on signing current or new teams to lead factory programs for the 2023 season, Lamborghini has a supplementary challenge to find teams that are ready, waiting and capable of facilitating the project.
It could lead to partnerships with one or more GT teams — SRO Americas/World Challenge champions K-PAX Racing have been among the rumored options — taking the company founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini into its first factory prototype engagement in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“The missing 10 percent I mentioned, and why I said we were not quite all the way there yet, is because it’s difficult to ask a team that you’re talking with to do nothing for a year (in 2023),” Ward said. “That’s a big ask, which takes more effort to find a solution, but we are very lucky. We’ve got a huge breadth internationally of existing customer teams, some of whom it would be easier to step into an LMDh program than others.
“I think it’s fair for me to say it’s more likely that we would grow upward with an existing customer [GT] racing effort, than take over the reins of an existing prototype team. With all of that said, we’re also speaking to existing prototype teams. But we have a vast array of people that would be more than capable of being able to do it. We’re just working to get things lined up before they’re all snapped up by others.”