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DPi Manufacturer Interest Building for 2020

Up to three new DPi marques on horizon for 2020 WeatherTech Championship season…

Photo: John Dagys

Interest in IMSA’s DPi platform is building, with as many as three new manufacturers in line to join the top class of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by as early as 2020.

Multiple industry sources have indicated to Sportscar365 that Ford and Hyundai have continued DPi discussions, while an undisclosed Japanese manufacturer has emerged as another automaker facing imminent deadlines to commit to the platform.

While having gone quiet in recent months amid a company-wide restructuring, Sportscar365 understands that progress has continued on a Multimatic-based Ford DPi, despite a recent string of budget cuts that had initially cast questions on its future in sports car racing.

The Blue Oval’s current factory GT Le Mans campaign with the Ford GT is expected to conclude at the end of this year, alongside its parallel GTE-Pro effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with an extension of either program understood to be unlikely.

Its IMSA drivers, who are on the second year of two-year contract extensions, have been urged by the manufacturer to not yet pursue new opportunities for 2020, leading to speculation that a DPi program could still materialize.

Hyundai, meanwhile, appears to be the next likely new manufacturer to mount a 2020 program, with a leading IMSA team having held recent talks with the Korean manufacturer.

Hyundai N brand boss Albert Biermann confirmed to Sportscar365 late last year that a DPi program is “one of the options” for the manufacturer, which is set to enter IMSA competition with Bryan Herta Autosport-run Hyundai Veloster N TCRs in Michelin Pilot Challenge this year.

A decision on Hyundai’s timeline for its potential entry, however, has not yet been determined.

IMSA could see a fourth Japanese manufacturer join the grid next year, with the undisclosed medium-volume automaker having recently completed design and feasibility studies with an LMP2 constructor.

It’s believed the project, which has been proposed with options either as a full factory program or customer-based effort, was presented to the board late last month.

Sportscar365 understands the manufacturer is not Lexus, which has continued to evaluate the platform as well, although ruling out a program for 2020, according to TRD President and general manager David Wilson.

The developments come in the wake of the recent release of the FIA and ACO’s ‘Hypercar’ regulations, which is believed to have delayed some DPi decisions amid the evolving global prototype landscape.

It includes questions over the likely second-generation DPi platform, which is due to debut in 2022.

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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