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Ford DPi Program Coming into Focus

Design studies, requests for proposals underway for likely Ford DPi program…

Photo: Ford

Details of Ford’s likely DPi entry into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have begun to emerge, with initial car studies and a team selection process reportedly already underway.

The American manufacturer, which is currently in the third of a four-year factory GT Le Mans campaign, has been widely reported to be preparing for a top-level prototype program following the conclusion of the Ford GT effort.

Sportscar365 has learned that design studies involving staff from Multimatic have been undertaken, along with requests for proposal from teams that could run the factory operation by as early as 2019.

Ford’s current sports car racing partner, Chip Ganassi Racing, however, is believed to hold the first right of refusal for the program.

The developments come in the wake of news that Ford is no longer in the FIA’s technical working group meetings to shape to the proposed 2020 ‘Hypercar’ regulations for the World Endurance Championship, leading to speculation that a Ford DPi program may have already been confirmed internally.

Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook previously said they would not undertake a dual prototype program unless it’s with a common set of regulations that’s shared in IMSA.

Speaking to Sportscar365 last weekend at Road America, Rushbrook said Ford continues to evaluate its prototype options, with a decision hinging on the finalization of the Hypercar regs, which is due to be presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for approval in early December.

“We’re still continuing to look at our options,” Rushbrook told Sportscar365. “We’re studying what our cycle plan is and could be in the future. There’s a lot of moving pieces.

“There’s certainly deadlines that need to be met for those kind of decisions.

“The commitment from the ACO and FIA is to have a complete definition of its rules at the end of the year and that’s when we will make decisions.”

When asked about whether a Ford DPi could debut in 2019, alongside the expected final year of the factory Ford GT program, Rushbrook said they “do not comment about future activities.”

IMSA President Scott Atherton has downplayed any imminent new DPi manufacturer for the start of the 2019 season.

“I wouldn’t hold out for that,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “We’re always in meetings and there’s always a process and content in the pipeline. But I don’t think we’re expecting a new player.

“If there was, we’d know about it and that’s not on the docket right now.

“It could happen. There’s always content under development. But our business planning is not expecting that.”

However, should Ford commit to a 2019 debut, it would give the manufacturer at least a three-year run under the current DPi regulations, which are confirmed through the end of the 2021 WeatherTech Championship season.

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 Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. KLM

    August 7, 2018 at 7:33 am

    I remember the Bentley design study, and Lamborghini, and Hyundai, and Toyota……

    I also question what relevance DPI has to do with the WEC and IMSA’s regulations in 2021 & 2022 respectively.

    • Harry Manback

      August 7, 2018 at 8:10 am

      You should be questioning the WEC’s relevance, period.

      • Nasportscar

        August 7, 2018 at 8:28 am

        Lol this

      • CookieMonsterFL

        August 7, 2018 at 8:39 am

        screw international sportscars, I want only my ‘Murican ones!

        What a typical ignorant statement. Always IMSA fans..

        • Nad

          August 7, 2018 at 11:04 am

          Completely non american here, what’s the point of “relevance” what even is “relevance” to a racing championship? There are brilliant racing series that nobody watches, like GT Masters or VLN, what’s “revelance” have to do with anything? As long as the grid is big and healthy and the actual racing is spectacular, who cares wether it’s a “world Championship” ( a handful or races in about 3 countries, with the WEC now) or a Regional Championship like IMSA. Hatred between the series is completely pointless and toxic, they are both good in their own way, they both have their unique flaws. Learn to accept and appreciate both or shut up, the one thing separating Sportscar racing from Farce 1 is the tight respectful friendly fanbase. Let’s not lose this, please.

          • Jess Deacon

            August 7, 2018 at 1:33 pm

            Well stated.

        • Harry Manback

          August 7, 2018 at 12:11 pm

          Pardon? A true IMSA Fan would want a tube-framed prototype with the Number 3 on the side co-driven by Bryan Breversley and $age Karam sponsored by Arby’s. You should probably get your facts together before you start accusing people of being ignorant.

        • Haskellb

          August 7, 2018 at 12:23 pm

          Would you like some cheese with your whine?

        • Andy Flinn

          August 7, 2018 at 5:04 pm

          Yeah, Cookie, Porsche, BMW, Acura, Nissan, Mazda, Audi, Mercedes, Lamborghini, Lexus, Dallara, Ligier, Oreca are all “‘Murican.”

          How ignorant do you have to be?

          • CookieMonsterFL

            August 7, 2018 at 5:11 pm

            You literally missed the point of my comment and reply of the previous one.

            How thorough do you read things before getting so hot you make a reply that doesn’t even have any relevance to the conversation? 🙂

        • ?

          August 7, 2018 at 6:09 pm

          Mister moderator sir, are you seriously trying to have a discussion with these tools?

      • AudiTT

        August 7, 2018 at 10:00 am

        Only someone who’s never set foot outside the US or has no concept of international motorsport would say something so ignorant.

        • Harry Manback

          August 7, 2018 at 12:04 pm

          Einstein defines insanity as “doing something over and over again and expecting the same result”. You know, like ignoring formulas that are proving to be popular and yet being baffled when they are losing/failing to attract new manufactures.

          If it is ignorant for someone like myself [who for the record frequently “sets foot outside the US” and follows “international motorsport”] to suggest that the WEC has their head up their asses, then fine. But what does that say about a person who grabs their torch and pitchfork to stand behind a series that’s hemorrhaging manufacturers and choosing to actively ignore/shun and idea that could be making them money.

          • Gene

            August 7, 2018 at 12:11 pm

            Not to nit-pick but Einstein’s definition was “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting DIFFERENT results.” Not same results – actually adds more credence to your statement.

          • Harry Manback

            August 7, 2018 at 12:14 pm

            Balls – thanks Gene – I even stole it from a google to make sure it was correct, guess that page was wrong. Boy do I have egg on my face.

            This is why you proofread, Children.

          • AudiTT

            August 7, 2018 at 5:55 pm

            WEC has a record grid in 2018/19, gained four privateer LMP1 teams, one factory GTE team, and doubled their GTE-Am grid. All in a transition year.

            IMSA is on the verge of losing ESM, their GTLM grid is faultering, LMP2 has an uncertain future, and GTD costs have exploded.

            I would suggest both series have equal opportunities and problems.

  2. Dave

    August 7, 2018 at 7:37 am

    When you look at how quickly Penske put together Acura’s program, you have to think Ganassi could do the same for Ford. I can picture the retiring GT and the new DPi sharing a respective-class podium at Daytona – there is no better marketing that could come out of sports car racing in the US. Especially with the announced further proliferation of the Eco-boost engine. Penske announced at the deadline to show up at Petit last year – literally just a couple of weeks before. It will be interesting to see if Ford shows up there in an Oreca with a few NASCAR or INDY stars to suck us all in. Here’s hoping….

    • Acura is :poop:

      August 7, 2018 at 7:43 am

      yeah but remember that Penske ran at PLM with a spec LMP2 Oreca-Gibson. Nothing DPi about it except a few of the drivers that would be part of the program.

      • Andy Flinn

        August 7, 2018 at 7:48 am

        That’s incorrect. The Acura DPi uses the Oreca chassis.

    • gimmeabreak

      August 7, 2018 at 9:01 am

      NASCAR stars to suck us in……………………What a joke.

      Might as well through in a couple of WWE starts as NECKCAR is WWE on wheels.

      Anyone who would let that be a factor is a moron.

      • Andy Flinn

        August 7, 2018 at 9:56 am

        Yeah, why attract NASCAR fans when we have you to drive them away?

        By the way, genius, the word you’re looking for is “throw” not “through.”

    • kv

      August 7, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      LOOK for Gannassi to to bring all the same players to DPi,with a RILEY /MULTI TUB AND 5.0 Coyote V8 !WELCOME back BLUE OVAL !

      • WBrowning

        August 8, 2018 at 9:25 am

        I would totally welcome that, but I fear it will be another “ecoboost” power plant. The GT4’s 5.2L Coyote would be an awesome way to go, especially the sound, compared to the V6 turbo.

        • stephen

          August 23, 2018 at 4:00 am

          I think it would be up to the rules of what engine they could run ?

    • Steven

      August 7, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Well, cosmetically, the Acura is 99% Oreca with a boomerang and different headlights. The engine was already tried and tested under Honda branding in 2016.

      So it was basically how good were the electrical system and how well ex-open wheel drivers can get comfortable in the a prototype.

      Plus its Penske Racing. Its a world class racing organization that was gonna be quick from the word go.

  3. Matt

    August 7, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I know it’s early and not announced yet, but any word on which chassis they will use?
    What are the rules on a 2nd manufacturer using an existing OEM that already provides manufacturer DPI support?

    • Brandon White

      August 7, 2018 at 8:17 am

      Considering Multimatic is doing the study, perhaps it will be a newly homologated Multimatic chassis?

    • Pay Driver

      August 7, 2018 at 8:50 am

      One chassis per OEM…multiple OEMs per chassis.

    • The Fisherman 🎣

      August 8, 2018 at 3:52 am

      There won’t be an existing Ligier or Riley-based DPi next year anyway.

  4. Change it up

    August 7, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Is it weird that an international series wants a series only based in the USA (and I guess Canada) to have the same top category? Isn’t sportscar racing more popular in Europe? Why don’t ELMS adopt the class? To the casual sportscar fan in America the DPi Cadillac is futuristic, though of course the more involved fan knows that the car is not running futuristic technology on the inside. IMSA makes its money by filling the seats and garnering tv viewers. The Cadillac gives an impression of being expensive though in reality it isn’t. On top of the casual fan pausing their channel surfing seeing cool cars they see entertaining racing which keeps them watching till the end. The entertaining racing is caused by the increased field which is from the cheapness of the cars. I’m sure if the casual fan watched the 24 hours of le mans this year they would have flipped the station pretty quickly.

    I think WEC should do its thing and IMSA does its thing. The WEC still comes to America so at least the involved fan gets an opportunity to check it out.

    • Change it up

      August 7, 2018 at 7:58 am

      I am the involved fan and I do think the futuristic technology the cars use was one of the reasons why the sport attracted me to watch. Though if IMSA turns into what the WEC is this year and the field thins out with only one team doing good I would not be happy. I’m all for what brings the bigger grids in.

      • CookieMonsterFL

        August 7, 2018 at 8:42 am

        no shit, who says WEC is succeeding with 2012 regs? They went insane with budgets and people left, Likewise if DPi was done in WEC we’d have more competitors based on some logic in this comment thread, so then WEC is even better?

        Must be this new ‘American’ thing to shit on every other form of motorsport without even talking about the series here. Its like y’all think your gonna dictate to Le Mans or the ACO… LMAO

        • Change it up

          August 7, 2018 at 9:18 am

          Am i saying DPi needs to be in the WEC? No. The WEC wants to direct IMSA’s future

          • CookieMonsterFL

            August 7, 2018 at 9:55 am

            Grand Am and ALMS sure made America look great in the international sportscar community.

            Honestly, I forget how grateful the rest of the world and Le Mans is to sportscar racing in America, considering the insane amount of American support that is thrown to Le Mans…..

            Le Mans and the WEC are the Triple Crown, idk what you want – to change that aspect? WEC (Le Mans) will always dictate IMSA – one of their classes is named after it….

            holy crap.

        • Jake

          August 7, 2018 at 10:25 am

          If any sportscar racing body is shitting on another, you have it backwards. The FIA/ACO has been shitting on IMSA for as long as I can remember. They go out of their way to ruin the “relationship” Atherton and Co. are saints for even trying to work with them. IMSA should absolutely sever ties and move along under their own direction. At their current rate, FIA/ACO won’t have a Le Mans to run, and the current on track product is a direct reflection of their (WEC) incompetence.

        • TF110

          August 7, 2018 at 11:36 am

          Only VW went insane with budgets. They are solely to blame. No rules say you have to spend $200 million for a program. YOU CAN if you want but that’s not healthy nor reasonable. Big difference there. I’ll believe this dpi story when I see it.

    • gimmeabreak

      August 7, 2018 at 9:05 am

      The Cadillac is “futuristic” complete with pushrod V8s.

      Yeah, okay………… gotta be kidding.

      And before some yahoo says “they win races with that old tech”………BOP and a big engine.

      Hell, my street cars are more futuristic than that Obama Motors crap.

      • Change it up

        August 7, 2018 at 9:15 am

        Read before you type, nice try troll.

      • Max

        August 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

        I’m not sure why I’m responding to a troll, but here we go. People need to give the whole “pushrods are ancient” argument since there’s a whopping 8 year difference in their invention. You’re really not clever when you make that dumb quip. Both were invented at the turn of the 20th century. That is to say, they’re both over 100 years old.

        Fire, the wheel, and screwdrivers are old too. Should we give up on those too?

      • Helmut

        August 8, 2018 at 6:50 am

        Without the “EoT” BoP and the funny weight regulations (a hybrid system weighs nuch more than 45 kg, which is the current difference between hybrid and non-hybrid LMP1) the futuristic hybrid LMP1 would never ever have a chance against non-hybrid cars.

  5. M

    August 7, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Will the Ford DPi have an oval boomerang over the nose of whatever chassis it selects?

    • Mo

      August 7, 2018 at 8:18 am

      I don’t care if the car looks like a boomerang as long as it’s on the grid.

      • Not Ryan E

        August 8, 2018 at 2:34 am

        Quantity over quality!
        Let’s go back to the ALMS vs. GA days!
        Grid fillerz 4 Life!

  6. j_c

    August 7, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I hope the Ford GTs will keep competing in privateer hands.

  7. Pay Driver

    August 7, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Seems a little late in the game for 2019, but I’d like to see it happen.

    Concerned for GTLM though. No Risi, no Ford…better hope Aston Martin join.

    • 919 Uber

      August 7, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Andy Palmer may be a better CEO, and the company may have better financial supporters, but Aston-Martin is starting to look a lot like Lotus under Dani Behar, getting involved and plastering its name on any- and everything it can.

      That’s probably not sustainable for a small company that only recently started to become profitable again.

      And if it didn’t want to pay the IMSA fee and race against a fully-stacked GTLM field, it doesn’t say much about the company to come in after it becomes weakened.

      But the first priority is probably to fix the new car.

  8. Tom Sawyer

    August 7, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Here’s to hoping that they use the GT350 engine and not the Ford GT engine…

    • Slicks in the wet

      August 8, 2018 at 1:53 am

      Please. My ears beg of them….GT sounds…sad.

  9. Edward

    August 7, 2018 at 8:58 am

    This would be the best program for Ford, three years and a lot of marketing, waiting for the imsa/wec common regs. Dpi in imsa,also because here gte is not very healthy, costumer or factory supported cars in wec (gulf racing,larbre..) so presence at le Mans and Asia

    • gimm

      August 7, 2018 at 9:08 am

      You people that keep saying that GTE is not very healthy here (GTLM) are full of shit. Why do you keep saying that bullshit?

      It’s more healthy than Prototypes, especially after NASCAR is running off all the P2 cars.

      • CookieMonsterFL

        August 7, 2018 at 10:02 am

        because secretly most IMSA fans are holdovers from Grand Am or NASCAR fans that just want to see top classes fighting for overall wins. Its why everyone loves DPi despite being really lopsided for specific teams and chassis and the continual call for everyone else to assimilate into whatever the hell DPi is now.

        Its all about throwing numbers in the face of your rivals, and for years IMSA couldn’t do that against the LMS or WEC. Now the numbers are shifting towards more participation in IMSA versus LMS, the IMSA fans want to dictate global prototype policy with the facts being the entry list…

        Its the only thing that makes sense at this point honestly.

        • Jake

          August 7, 2018 at 10:39 am

          Yup. If only IMSA were a direct reflection of the WEC, complete with one factory team, and a self admitted EOT that states privateer P1’s not be capable of setting the same lap times as the lone manufacturer. How’s that Ginetta Mechachrome partnership? The WEC is an embarrassment, and you want to rip on IMSA?

          • KLM

            August 7, 2018 at 11:56 am

            That would be a WEC series, that even in a transition year, has 17 LMP’s and 17 GTE’s? With more manufacturers and teams looking to step up from the ELMS and other series.

            Innteresting to note Porsche are selling another half dozen RSR’s to customers in the WEC and ELMS with demand outstripping supply. Meanwhile GTLM is down to its core teams in IMSA. No more Ferrari, Ford on the way out, and no customer teams to bulk up the field. It’s going to resemble the old GT1 days.

            Still, I suppose 6-8 DPI’s could put on a show. Let’s hope the P2’s stick around or we’ll be looking at 25-30 car grids maximum.

          • Jake

            August 7, 2018 at 2:33 pm

            KLM, How is GTD any different than GTE Am? GT3 cars vs year old GTE’s, they all race the same. in IMSA last weekend there were 13 prototypes and 19 GT cars. Ferrari was never in, and Risi are not out in GTLM, they have a limited schedule after two pretty rough years. Don’t forget that Ford are out of GTLM in both championships, not just IMSA. In fact they will be in IMSA longer than WEC, as the super season in WEC wraps up at Le Mans next year. The GT’s will be in the full IMSA 2019 championship.

  10. Larry

    August 7, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Nice click-bait John. Fords DPi plans are no more clear now than they were 6 months ago.

    A “design study” is underway for various reasons by every manufacturer all the time.

    • Mo

      August 7, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Why do you and others post this type of asinine crap? We all can read. We understand what the article says and what it does not say. Every article is click bait, that’s what this site is about. That’s how the internet works. Every time an article is posted about a potential, new program, Captain Obvious has to tell the author of the article that it’s only a potential, new program.

    • Andy Flinn

      August 7, 2018 at 11:28 am

      I’m sure the same was said about Ford’s IMSA GTLM program just a few years ago.

      Nice try, Larry.

  11. Tim

    August 7, 2018 at 11:08 am

    If I’m not mistaken the Riley lmp2 is made by Multimatic? Riley Ford DPI?

    • Max

      August 7, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Correct. I think if Ford was to go the Mazda route and throw a GT nose/body style on it they could have a pretty good looking car that would perform better than the stock Riley-Multimatic bodywork. Mazda has been performing pretty well this year so it looks like that at least on US tracks the Evo has legs.

  12. jason

    August 7, 2018 at 11:30 am

    The WEC Ford program probably will end after Le Mans 2019. That is in June. Maybe the WEC teams will run the DPI in the 2nd half of 2019. Starting a Road America perhaps?

    Still I hope GTP gets off the ground. I find the idea of how those cars will look more appealing than the DPIs.

  13. Jake

    August 7, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Boy this could be fun. Ford wants to keep Multimatic involved it sounds like. Do they dare base their DPi around a terrible chassis? Or do they use a Dallara/Oreca/Ligier, and have Multimatic design their aero kit? Would be really ironic if the latter happened.

  14. Pete

    August 7, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Lincoln MKDPi

    Make it happen, Ford.

    • Harry Manback

      August 7, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      ^This guy gets it!

    • Sir Skidsalot

      August 8, 2018 at 9:34 am

      I thought they were going away with the stupid, confusing MK_ names, so maybe the Lincoln Zephyr DPi?

      • Pete

        August 8, 2018 at 7:25 pm

        …Merkur XR4DPi?

        • stephen

          August 23, 2018 at 4:04 am

          I like you comment .

  15. Tim also

    August 7, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Didn’t Spirit of Daytona sell their Riley P2 recently? Who bought it?

  16. Brian France

    August 7, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Anyone got a stiff drink?

    I’m starting to get the shakes here.

  17. Slicks in the wet

    August 8, 2018 at 1:57 am

    “IWSCFord DPi Program Coming into Focus”

    ANOTHER terribly researched story by SC365. Don’t you guys know Ford is dropping the Focus as mainstream car.



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