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Atherton: IMSA Hopeful for DPi, Hypercar “Coexistence”

IMSA President hopeful of DPi, Hypercar “coexistence” despite ACO’s confirmed direction…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

IMSA President Scott Atherton says that optimism for shared grids between the ACO and FIA’s Hypercar formula and the second-generation DPi ruleset still hasn’t died down.

An update on the anticipated FIA World Endurance Championship top-level prototype regulations, which will debut in the 2020-21 season, was issued in Le Mans on Friday.

It didn’t include any plans for convergence between Hypercar and the successor to DPi, following speculation that IMSA’s top-level prototype class could form part of the fabric.

However, Atherton said that he remains hopeful that the two major sports car sanctioning bodies can achieve a “common goal” of mixed competition.

“I don’t want to set a false expectation, but that remains a collective goal,” Atherton told Sportscar365.

“When you have two collaborative groups that are working collectively together towards a common goal, typically it ends in a good result.

“I don’t know how this is going to end, but I would say that the collective goal remains that the opportunity remains for both platforms to co-exist.

“And that goes both ways. It means the opportunity for a DPi at Le Mans, and a Hypercar to be at Daytona and Sebring, and so on.

“A lot of smart people are working towards that goal, but we don’t know how it’s going to end up. Time will tell.”

When asked by Sportscar365 on the prospects of other platforms, such as DPi, becoming eligible in the FIA and ACO’s yet-to-be-named top class, ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil declined comment.

“For the moment we speak about these rules,” he said. “There’s nothing to say about this.”

Atherton, meanwhile, said the relationship between IMSA and the ACO is “as good as it has ever been” and suggested that the two parties are in a good position for cross-competition talks.

“It is a topic of active discussion, as recently as yesterday,” he noted.

“I will say that the relationship we have with the ACO, and not just at this moment in time, but it has been as good as it has ever been.

“Even though some will speculate otherwise, I can tell you genuinely that the level of co-operation and collaboration is at the highest level I’ve seen in 20 years.

“Both examples of the WEC approach, now Hypercar, have a lot of work still to be done to define the details of the regulation. What we heard today is the tops of the waves.”

Atherton confirmed that IMSA has engaged in “very open collaboration” with the ACO in recent weeks amid pressure for clarity on the Hypercar regs.

Sportscar365 understands that the adoption of IMSA’s DPi platform had been a realistic option for the FIA and ACO until prior to Aston Martin’s Hypercar commitment made late last month that confirmed two manufacturers for its platform.

“We’ve been working closely with the ACO especially over the last 30 days and had a very open collaboration of some recent developments on their side, which ultimately resulted in what was announced today,” Atherton explained.

“It has been a fairly recent development, especially if you go back 30 days ago when I don’t think they had nearly the confidence that what was being announced today was going to come to fruition.

“I’m happy for them that it’s out and it seems to be well-received. They have initial commitments from some and the promise of more to follow. We’ll see how it develops.”

Atherton said work continues on the development of the so-called DPi 2.0 regulations, with the next working group meeting scheduled for the week of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

He said it remains their goal to finalize a draft version of the regulations, due to debut in 2022, by the end of this year.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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