Discussions on the next set of top class prototype regulations for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have begun, ahead of a likely 2022 debut as a replacement for the current-generation DPi platform.
A preliminary meeting among current and prospective prototype manufacturers and constructors was held last week in Daytona, which IMSA President Scott Atherton referenced to as a “thought starter” for the series’ stakeholders.
Atherton stressed that a number of options remain on the table for 2022, including the adoption of the FIA and ACO’s recently confirmed ‘Hypercar’ regulations and next-generation LMP2 platform, which is slated to debut globally in 2021.
“This was a thought-starter with still an open mind to a global solution, no doubt,” Atherton told Sportscar365.
“In no way have we abandoned that but we also recognize the reality of what’s occurring around us and plan accordingly.”
While Atherton and manufacturer representatives declined to comment on the extent of the topics discussed, Sportscar365 understands that the adoption of hybrid technology was among the key subjects.
A number of manufacturers, including possible DPi incumbents Ford and BMW, are understood to be in support of the implementation of a cost-effective energy recovery system that would provide technology transfer.
“If we are looking at works-level racing, I think hybrid within the next 3-4 years is something you cannot ignore,” said BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt.
Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook added: “What is good in this sport is that we’re all partners together.
“Any opportunity for open dialogue, on any topic, is good. Progress is usually made.”
Marquardt, Rushbrook and Ligier Automotive’s Pierre Nicolet said the meeting was ‘quite positive’ in allowing for open dialogue between constructors and manufacturers.
“It’s just about starting,” Nicolet told Sportscar365. “So I think it was very appreciative and appreciated by everybody in the room.
“We are all working together for a better series and a better sport. So it’s very enjoyable.”
Nicolet said the future landscape of the 2022 regs depends on the “global situation” in reference to the Hypercar platform, which appears unlikely to be adopted largely due to costs.
However, IMSA is understood to also be waiting on clarity for the next-generation LMP2 platform, which could again serve as the underpinnings of DPi but in an evolved form.
Those regulations are not due to debut until the 2021-22 WEC season, which could be better timed for the WeatherTech Championship.
“Obviously the LMP2 platform is something we can continue developing, however if there is a new platform to be developed, we would be up for it as well,” Nicolet said.
“It depends on what everybody considers to be the best.
“Globally, it has to grow. I think what IMSA and the ACO has done the past five years is great for sports car racing.
“I believe IMSA and the ACO will do their part to make everything work. They are very professional, so for us just to be here is already a success for us.”
While the subject of a possible extension of the current DPi regulations has been discussed among manufacturers, Atherton said the current plan is still for “new content” in 2022.
IMSA has already given an extra year of eligibility for DPi after an initial four-year commitment that began in 2017.