IMSA and ACO announce Prototype rules convergence in 2022
ACO president Pierre Fillon and IMSA chairman Jim France have revealed a new Prototype LMDh class that will be common to both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The decision means prototypes that compete in the U.S. sportscar classics at Daytona and Sebring will also be eligible to race at Le Mans from the 2022 edition of the race, and in the WEC from the start of the 2021/22 campaign in September 2021.
However, no definitive word has been given on whether Le Mans Hypercars will be able to compete alongside the new LMDh machines in IMSA.
An official statement explained that the ACO and IMSA "were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0".
It added: "The result of this convergence, the LMDh car will be:
- 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.
- The car will use a common hybrid KERS system, on the rear axle.
- Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car."
Further details of the LMDh formula will be revealed March during the Sebring 12 Hours weekend, which is again sharing the bill with the WEC this year.
“This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA," said Fillon. "The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organizations which is a great success story for endurance racing.
“A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships, the FIA WEC and the WeatherTech Championship. We can’t emphasize enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
Added France: “When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world.
"With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
WEC boss Gerard Neveu commented: “The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car.
"The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”
IMSA president John Doonan said: “On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing.
"Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived.
"We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”
Reaction from elsewhere in motorsport
An official comment from Mark Kent, director of Cadillac Racing, stated: “Cadillac congratulates IMSA and the ACO on their announcement of a convergence in the top class of prototype racing.
"Since the introduction of the Cadillac DPi-V.R in 2017, we have had tremendous success in North America in the IMSA Series and are encouraged at the prospect of an international formula for the future of prototype racing.
"Once we obtain further details, we will evaluate if our participation aligns with our company’s future vision.”
Meanwhile McLaren CEO Zak Brown tweeted: "Major positive news for global sportscar racing from ACO and @IMSA today. Great vision and collaboration to create better racing and therefore better entertainment for fans. The dawn of a new era for sportscars."
Richard Mille, president of the FIA Endurance Commission, commented: "I am really happy about this new initiative which, without doubt, will strengthen our FIA World Endurance Championship.
"For sure this project will bring to the FIA WEC more manufacturers and more competitors. The FIA will support this new class of prototypes with our trusted partner ACO."
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