IMSA is pondering the idea of holding a warm-up race for LMDh cars ahead of the hybrid prototype formula’s first official event in January of 2023.
New LMDh models from Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche are due to start testing at various points between the end of the year and April-May of 2022. In turn, IMSA will have the majority of the field ready to assemble for a non-championship race in the latter stages of 2022 if it elects to go forward with the idea.
The inspiration for the concept comes from a recent change of plans for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2023 where IMSA’s brand-new LMDhs will go head-to-head with the FIA WEC’s LMH prototypes for overall honors at the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s season opener.
With convergence in motion to bring LMDhs and LMHs together in the same class, LMH entrants will have between one to two years of experience racing their cars in the WEC and hold a significant advantage in resolving any reliability issues that arise in 2021 or 2022.
Facing the potential of the guest LMH models being in a greater stage of readiness to complete the 24-hour race than an LMDh field making their competition debut, the thought of giving IMSA’s LMDh manufacturers a chance to race each other and work out some of bugs before the Rolex 24 is where the notion originated.
“Because of where we landed on a technical solution with the ACO and FIA WEC with convergence, and the opportunities to get everybody in LMDh in a place where they’re fully ready when 2023 arrives, we’ve thought about the possibility of running a race, if they’re prepared, in advance of the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” IMSA president John Doonan told RACER.
“We know the LMDh cars that are going to be making their competition debuts at Daytona will have done significant amounts of testing, both privately and in sanctioned tests, gone to the wind tunnel so that we can do proper homologation and characterizations of both platforms, and put in a lot of work to get ready for this new dawn of prototype racing with hybrid engines.
“We also want to make sure that if our OEM partners find value in what would essentially be a warm-up race to get themselves prepared for the Rolex 24, we’d do our due diligence and look into what that might look like. It’s incumbent upon IMSA to ensure that when they all do take the green flag for the first time together in anger, that every LMDh has had ample time to make sure that they are fully prepared.”