IMSA President Scott Atherton said they are “mindful” of maintaining a presence for privateers in its top class, despite concerns of increased costs and no current plans to mandate customer sales for its next-generation DPi machinery.
Scheduled to debut in 2022, the so-called DPi 2.0 platform is set to feature hybrid powertrains and a likely uptick in manufacturers, leading to questions over the future of privateer involvement.
While not having been a topic of debate in recent working group meetings, Atherton indicated IMSA plans to maintain its position in not requiring customer sales of DPis under the new ruleset.
Currently only Cadillac offers DPis to customers, with the Extreme Speed Motorsports-commissioned Nissan DPi having become available this year following the team’s dissolution.
“We’ve respected the decisions of each manufacturer, and they make their own decisions in that regard,” Atherton told Sportscar365.
“There’s only been a handful of teams that have expressed disappointment to us that they didn’t have an opportunity to acquire a certain DPi example that wasn’t available.
“But I think when you have a professional category that is focused on manufacturer involvement, you have to respect the manufacturer’s wishes.
“And therefore, for us to go in and mandate something in that regard, I don’t think that’s consistent with how a fully professional category would operate.”
The DPi class currently features a mix of factory and privateer outfits, including the likes of JDC-Miller Motorsports and CORE autosport, which have stepped up from LMP2 machinery this year.
Atherton said he envisions those types of teams still being able to play in the top class in 2022, as well as over the next two years.
Sportscar365 understands that the Acura ARX-05 may be made available to customers next year once its exclusivity contract with Team Penske ends.
“I’m confident there will always be options for independent teams to acquire DPis,” Atherton said. “If anything, I see the number of manufacturers willing to sell a DPi increasing, not decreasing.
“We’re mindful of not creating a technology package that eliminates the independent team from being able to operate. That would not be on the list.
“Hybrid power can take many different forms. We’re all familiar with the sophistication and technology involved in LMP1 and we’re not going there.”
Bennett: Current DPi Costs at Privateer Team’s “Limit”
CORE autosport team owner/driver Jon Bennett said it’s ultimately up to IMSA to decide on how it wants to shape the class but stressed that the existing costs in DPi are already at the maximum from a privateer’s standpoint.
“If manufacturers are not encouraged to sell runable cars to private teams then the class will evolve into something that looks a lot like GT Le Mans, which is a manufacturer-only division,” Bennett told Sportscar365.
“I think it depends on what the series wants racing to look like.
“If you make it exclusive to manufacturers, you better make sure to have enough interest to create [good] racing.”
While pursuing a future DPi manufacturer partnership for his team, Bennett said the current costs of racing in the top class, from a privateer’s perspective, has already reached his ceiling.
IMSA has yet outline any potential budget increases for DPi 2.0, although teams expect added costs around the car’s hybrid systems, in equipment costs and the likely need of a dedicated hybrid engineer.
“If the racing gets much more expensive… I’m pretty much at my limit of insane spending,” Bennett said. “If our budget went up another 20 percent, that’d be where I’d jump off.”