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Atherton Downplays DPi Regs Extension; “New Content” for ’22

IMSA unlikely to extend current DPi regs cycle; evo, all-new platform planned for 2022…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

IMSA President Scott Atherton says there’s no active dialogue on a possible extension of the current DPi regulations, despite a push from several manufacturers to continue with some form of the existing platform beyond the 2021 season.

Originally announced as a four-year commitment, IMSA confirmed last year the current DPi and LMP2 technical regulations would be extended through the end of the 2021 season.

Despite the FIA and ACO’s Hypercar regulations unlikely to be adopted, but not yet completely ruled out, Atherton has reiterated plans for “new content” in the top-class prototype regulations for 2022.

“I would never say never, but I don’t want to speculate,” he told Sportscar365. “That’s not part of any discussion right now.

“We pride ourselves on establishing a vision and a strategy and sticking to it.

“You saw that during the merger era where we said, ‘these cars will be eligible until this date on the calendar.’

“We’ve said the same thing as it applies to current technology, and our evolutionary process, which would define the next generation of technical regulations and then have the appropriate time available to construct, test, and be ready to race, that’s the schedule we’re on.

“It will be new content for 2022.”

Atherton said they haven’t yet actively pursued a new prototype platform outside of the Hypercar regs, which will debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship beginning with its 2020/21 season.

“We are letting that process run its full course meeting regularly with manufacturers that are both involved with us now, those that have indicated an interest, those that are not involved, meeting with the ACO, meeting with the FIA,” he said.

“That process will soon come to a conclusion. As we speak today, that dialogue still exists.”

Sportscar365 understands that an IMSA manufacturer council meeting, scheduled for the week of the Rolex 24, will begin the formal process in determining the landscape for 2022 and beyond.

Among the discussion points will be an expected adoption of a hybrid powertrain for IMSA’s top class and whether an all-new formula will be introduced for 2022 or rather an evolution of the current DPi platform.

Manufacturers Support Current DPi Formula

Cadillac and Honda Performance Development have both shown support of the current DPi platform, admitting they’d be open to an extension of the regulations, in one shape or another.

Manufacturers have cited costs as the major roadblock in adopting the Hypercar regs.

“The new regs look cool, but the fundamental reason I think DPi is going to grow is because it’s a good value for money,” HPD COO Steve Eriksen told Sportscar365.

“If there’s a way to incorporate the new proportions and keep the budgets where we are now, maybe. But so far, the budget numbers that are being discussed are still a long ways off from what need for this financial environment.”

Eriksen, along with Cadillac Racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser, said they’d be in favor of extending the current DPi regulations for at least an additional year.

Klauser, who said IMSA has “hit it out of the park” with its DPi formula, supports an evolution for 2022 instead of an all-new platform.

“If you look at it from a return on investment standpoint, the more carry-over you can have, everything from physical hardware to lessons learned, the better off you are and stronger for the next go-around,” she told Sportscar365.

“You don’t even have to extend [the regs] as exactly as they are.

“As long as whatever you do in the next gen is an evolution, it allows for people to get in and make a small investment for the next go-around versus having to start over.”

An evolutionary step could therefore allow prospective new DPi manufacturers, such as Ford and Hyundai, to enter at the tail-end of the current regulation cycle and not waste development on the first-gen platform.

Eriksen: LMP2 Future Regs Could Dictate DPi 2.0

The planned rollout of new global LMP2 regulations for 2021 could play a key part in shaping IMSA’s top prototype class, according to Eriksen.

While planning around its Hypercar regulations have taken top priority, the FIA and ACO are understood to soon shift focus to determining the next LMP2 ruleset, which will replace the current cost-capped formula that’s confirmed until the end of 2020.

“I think the real question is going to be, what’s the next P2?” Eriksen said. “Obviously we’re [currently] using a P2 base.

“You could take a company like ORECA, that makes a P1 and P2 car.

“If the regs for P2 is that the basic dimensions of the monocoque and crash structure were the same for P2 and P1, then either one could be your base as long as the costs are in line with a cost-capped P2 car.

“I’m keen to see where P2 goes. Do they stick with cost-cap? Do they stick with the current [performance] envelope? Do they go to the new Hypercar [envelope]?”

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

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