IMSA President John Doonan has clarified that any Le Mans Hypercar manufacturer wanting to compete in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship must be an established OEM in the North American market while also meeting the sanctioning body’s commercial agreements.
It casts question into the eligibility of low-volume automakers such as Glickenhaus, or other potential yet-to-run LMH entries that could look to compete in the blue-ribbon IMSA events under the ACO and IMSA’s new convergence agreement.
Doonan confirmed that OEM participation in LMDh requires a road car production of 2,500 units per year and also forging an automotive brand partnership with IMSA should it compete in the WeatherTech Championship.
“There’s no question that we’re very interested in seeing as many manufacturers as possible join us,” Doonan told Sportscar365.
“We need to understand their intentions relative to a business and commercial arrangement, their interest in the North American market and if their brand selling road cars here.
“If they are, great, we’d love to help them enhance that. If they’re not currently [selling road cars] maybe we can be a catalyst to that some day happening.
“No question that’s our business model at IMSA. This opens the door to more of that.”
While Doonan declined to comment in-depth on the potential eligibility of Glickenhaus, IMSA has historically only accepted mainstream OEMs since the start of the WeatherTech Championship.
The only exception in series’ history came with the DeltaWing, an entry fielded by then-IMSA vice chairman Don Panoz that was under a special agreement.
“At the moment in LMDh regulations, as is the case with DPi regulations, there’s a minimum volume of road car production that’s required,” said Doonan.
“That’s something that’s set in the LMDh regulations. We need to continue to study that [for LMH].
“It’s something to discuss relative to a single category. [Glickenhaus] has several different track platforms and a GT3 car coming.
“That was the impetus of what’s in DPi’s regulations that carried over to LMDh — is basing it around the same model of having a minimum of road car volume.”
Other LMH manufacturers Toyota, Ferrari and Peugeot are not expected to face any hurdles, granted automotive partnership agreements are made.
Stellantis automotive group motorsport boss Jean-Marc Finot indicated that it would utilize a brand that’s sold in North America for a LMH entry, should it decide to enter the WeatherTech Championship with a car based on its wingless Peugeot 9X8.
Peugeot does not currently sell road cars in the North American market.
“If [Stellantis] would like to come to race in the U.S. to run in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, that’s our model and I would hope they would want to do it around a brand that they could activate in North America,” Doonan said.
“That’s exactly what convergence is all about.”
IMSA Undecided on Name of New Top Class
Doonan said they haven’t decided on a name for the new top class in the WeatherTech Championship, despite the ACO’s intention of maintaining the ‘Hypercar’ branding in the FIA World Endurance Championship for the LMH and LMDh platforms.
“We’ve discussed a variety of things with our partners,” he said. “Nobody’s decided any single naming globally.
“We have LMDh for the platform.
“I think [the ACO] said last September that they are going to call the top category Hypercar.
“We’ll see what shakes out. There’s a lot of work to do on the technical side and a lot of work to do things like that.
“I think it’s incumbent on us, as a sport, to make sure whatever names we’re using are easily understood, not only by our current core audience but also by prospective fans.
“We need to be able to explain multi-class racing, as we do now, but even take it a step further to help everyone understand what it is what we do.”