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Lexus Keeping DPi Prospects in “Field of Vision”

Lexus keeping DPi within its “field of vision” according to TRD boss David Wilson…

Photo: John Dagys

TRD President and General Manager Dave Wilson says Lexus has continued to keep DPi in its “field of vision” amid increased speculation of the luxury automaker joining the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The second-year GT Daytona manufacturer, which has a long-term commitment to IMSA, is understood to have ramped up talks for a possible DPi effort to debut as early as 2019.

Sportscar365 has learned that discussions have already taken place with chassis constructors and prospective teams, including ORECA and Andretti Autosport, respectively, which could put the brand in sports car racing’s fastest growing platform.

Wilson, however, downplayed any immediate prospects of Lexus joining the Prototype field.

“Last year, we said we were continuing to explore all the various opportunities,” he told Sportscar365.

“We’re really impressed with the growth of DPi and we’re keeping that in our field of vision. There’s nothing certainly right now.

“Our focus is to have a good sophomore year in GTD, grow on that, and we’ll see what happens down the road.

“As a fan, you’ve got to love where DPi is going. Of course, we’re all, as an industry, looking at the global picture.”

With IMSA recently extending the homologation period of DPi through 2021, an entry into the class for next year would provide Lexus, or any other manufacturer, a three-year minimum program under the current regulations.

Wilson said the possibility of a global prototype platform, proposed by the FIA and ACO, that would merge LMP1 and DPi regulations, would be the ideal situation for the company, which is already heavily invested in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota.

It would effectively allow Toyota and Lexus to compete with the same car in both series by as early as 2022.

“Our colleagues in Japan are right in the middle of conversations with the FIA and ACO,” Wilson said.

Wilson, however, admitted that hybrid technology, currently embraced in the WEC, could be a “slippery slope” in IMSA, which has been among the holdups in convergence talks as recent as last weekend in Daytona.

“The current competition is very happy with where DPi is now,” he said. “The flip side of it is that obviously Toyota and Lexus are invested in technology.

“With hybrid technology, we’ve learned a ton racing in WEC so from a tech transfer perspective, that would be kind of cool.

“But it has to be done the right way and in a manner that doesn’t compromise the great product that IMSA has on the track right now.”

At least three manufacturers are understood to be closing in on a DPi decision, in what would add further growth to the platform in the coming years.

Acura joined the DPi ranks this year alongside launch partners Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan, with Ford also understood to be in advanced talks that could see the Blue Oval debut in 2020 following the completion of the Ford GT program.

“You’ve got to give IMSA a tremendous amount of credit about what they’ve done with DPi, [in] attracting more manufacturers,” Wilson said. “We’re looking at it.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Harry Manback

    January 30, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Any word on Bentley? Wasn’t that supposed to “materialize” right about now?

    • Northstar

      January 30, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      Last I heard it was put on the shelf.

    • Haskellb

      January 30, 2018 at 8:04 pm

      They got to wind tunnel testing models and then Dieselgate killed that program.

  2. Harry Manback

    January 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Calling it now: Toyota Gazoo finally “wins” Le Mans this year then pulls the plug on LMP1 [after they “fulfill their commitment” to the super-season], and then Gazoo leads up the Lexus DPi program.

    • TF110

      January 30, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Yeah no. I think you probably posted this before the Alonso announcement. He is now signed up for the 2018-19 wec super season with Toyota. I don’t think they’re going anywhere. With that signing they just boosted the wec’s credibility and attractiveness to a lot of people. F1 fans of Alonso will now be Toyota fans and wec/lmp1 fans. So if he stays for the long haul, he has the possibility to win not just the LM24, but maybe even the Daytona 24 with Toyota/Lexus.

      • Harry Manback

        January 30, 2018 at 1:12 pm

        Right. Because a manufacture has never said “on second thought, never mind” ever before…. ever… like, never with in the last two years. And yeah, Alonso is teamed up with them because 1) McLaren hasn’t finalized their “return to Le Mans” plan yet, and 2) it’s [on paper*] the best/only option for Alonso to win overall at the moment, abet cheaply*. I guarantee you that if he does pull it off this year, a “scheduling conflict” will arise for the 2019 F1 season.

        *On paper, there is no reason why Toyota won’t win this year, yet, we all know how that goes. And thus, because it’s a “guaranteed win” for him [should his car just happened to find itself being the strongest of the four, because that would never be orchestrated for headline purposes, ever], I’ve loss respect of Alonso because it’s not winning if it’s handed to you.

      • Haskellb

        January 30, 2018 at 8:06 pm

        Not now that they have no competition and no need to make any changes beyond reliability upgrades.

  3. stuart

    January 30, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    So who is the 3rd manufacture? Ford, Toyota and …. I think Porsche would of thrown it’s hat in the ring by now. A program would be peanuts for them in their largest market. I’d say it would be less than what they are spending on the LMGT program

    • Matt

      January 30, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Mercedes were rumored a while back, possibly them?

      • Haskellb

        January 30, 2018 at 8:08 pm

        People wanted to run the Mercedes V8 instead of the Gibson because it is powerful, reliable, and easy to maintain but IMSA said no dice without a full DPI kit.

        • Truth

          January 31, 2018 at 1:55 pm

          All you have to do is put a boomerang on the nose and suddenly you are a DPi.

          • Andy Flinn

            January 31, 2018 at 5:59 pm

            Truth, that and the fact that the Acura engine is completely different than the spec Gibson mandated in WEC LMP2 and the ELMS.

    • Andrew

      January 30, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      The ever present Hyundai rumors appeared again this spring. And they are pushing their Genesis model range of cars again hard with TV ads. But then it usually fades quickly

      • Slicks in the wet

        January 31, 2018 at 2:28 am

        Kia Stinger DPi??

  4. Anonymous

    January 30, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Sounds like Toyota are putting their eggs in several baskets as there is still uncertainty over the future of the “Global Prototype Platform” and additional uncertainty and concern as to what shape LMP1 is going to be in when the new Regs are finally unveiled. I suspect Toyota will walk away at the end of the superseason, having collected 2 LM24 wins, especially if no major manufacturer interest materialises. I realise there a few very BIG If’s in there.

  5. no

    January 30, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    yay another oreca or dallara p2 with some extra plastic glued on

  6. Passenger

    January 30, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    If they will do like GM, put Lexus name in prototype and Toyota in GT cars. That will be best answer for them. The problem Toyota don’t. It is hard to understand the reason because Lexus has sold in Europe. They should have put Lexus on LMP1 before.

    • CM

      January 30, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Lexus isn’t know as well as Toyota is in the world, there are still many countries you can’t get a Lexus. Everybody and their Mom knows who Toyota are and if your going to win the biggest endurance race in the world wouldn’t you want Toyota on the car compared the luxury sister company that started out in the US? Toyota didn’t sell Lexus’s in Japan until 2005 so even in Japan it is a somewhat new brand. No way Toyota is going to win Lemans without the Toyota name on the front of the car.

      • Larry

        January 31, 2018 at 7:55 am

        Acura started as a US only brand and is still not available everywhere, much like Lexus, but Honda chose to go with Acura for their DPi.

        Ford should do one and call it a Lincoln…….. 🙂

        • Pete

          January 31, 2018 at 9:58 am

          Larry, friends and I have been pushing that for a while now lol. Cadillac is GM’s luxury brand, Acura is Honda’s, it would actually make some sense to go with Lincoln branding. Plus, the nomenclature lends itself to it.

          Lincoln MKDPi. Do it, Ford.

          • MikeK

            January 31, 2018 at 11:33 am

            Dyson has a relationship with Lincoln, so I can see a Dyson Lincoln DPi ready for 2019.

          • Big Mike

            January 31, 2018 at 2:02 pm

            Bring back the Mercury brand and call it the Cougar Dpi.lol

  7. David Chaste

    January 31, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Andretti autosport to run the program ? They’re stretched so thin none of their programs are really outstanding. And they’ve been out of the game for 10 years. I would give it to the team that does more with less…Mr Shank.

    • Pete

      January 31, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Shank or maybe even JDC. They’ve shown that they are more than capable of contending with a P2 and limited funding. Give them some factory backing and they could probably move mountains.

    • Rus'L

      January 31, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      Andretti Autosports bid for the BMW contract when it was up, but BMW stuck with Rahal.

      And Andretti was talking to Acura (due to AA’s history with Honda when they last did prototypes in ALMS) before Acura went with Penske.

      So, AA definitely wants to get back into sportscar racing. Whether they should of course is another question…

  8. Haskellb

    January 31, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    I wonder who the other 3 manufactures are.

  9. Parker

    February 1, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I’d love to see Lotus enter GT Daytona or GT Le Mans with the Evora 400 now that they have some backing from Geely.

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