Le Mans Hypercars will be allowed to join LMDh machinery in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s top class from 2023, as a key outcome of this week’s finalized convergence agreement between IMSA and the ACO.
A joint announcement from the two sports car racing sanctioning bodies on Friday added to an FIA World Motor Sport Council notice on Thursday that declared the approval of a “technical regulations amendment” in order to balance the distinct formulas.
Technical details of the convergence agreement demonstrate how key areas such as aerodynamics, tire fitment and acceleration profile will be used to balance LMH and LMDh.
Such measures are needed because LMH and LMDh cars have different characteristics.
LMH is the work of World Endurance Championship co-organizers the ACO and the FIA. The category, which entered competition this year, carries open regulations in terms of powertrain layout and chassis development.
The LMDh formula developed by IMSA and the ACO requires manufacturers to choose from one of four designated base LMP2 chassis suppliers on which to develop their cars, which are powered by brand-tailored engines coupled with a spec hybrid system.
LMDh was created as a common platform designed to race in both the WEC and IMSA, but cross-championship compatibility had not been afforded to LMH until now.
The finalization of convergence terms asserts that LMH cars from the likes of Peugeot, Toyota, Ferrari and Glickenhaus will be able to enter the top class of IMSA racing.
It therefore opens the possibility for cars from those companies to tackle classic American sports car races such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans.
Friday’s joint statement declared that the eligibility of LMH cars in North America will be subject to a “business agreement” between each manufacturer and IMSA.
“The FIA, ACO and IMSA have been working towards a common future where teams running in LMH and LMDh can race on both sides of the Atlantic,” said FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille.
“Today we can see that the convergence has taken a step closer to reality, which is great news for all of us involved in endurance racing.
“The principles have been agreed by all parties. The dream of teams and manufacturers being able to compete in all of the top endurance races with the same car for the first time is now at hand.
“This represents a significant moment in the history of motor racing.”
ACO President Pierre Fillon and IMSA President John Doonan also hailed the agreement, with both sanctioning body leaders emphasizing the collaboration between the involved organizations as well as the potential gains for sports car racing in the future.
Peugeot, Toyota and Ferrari have all previously voiced support for LMH eligibility in IMSA. Peugeot will join Toyota in the WEC next year, while Ferrari is due to arrive in 2023.
Head of Stellantis Motorsport Jean-Marc Finot, who is in charge of the Peugeot LMH program, said earlier this week that the French brand is in favor of convergence although stressed they have no current plans to enter WeatherTech Championship races.
“I think it should be [allowed to race in IMSA],” Finot told Sportscar365. “Technically this car is very close [to] what is used in LMDh. But they have to make that decision.
“Currently our program is WEC only. We are focused on this program in the WEC.”