Two of the three current DPi manufacturers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship revealed they have no interest in the addition of hybrid powertrains into the next-generation formula, although admitting it wouldn’t be a “dealbreaker” as long as costs remain under control.
Both Mazda and Cadillac have publicly stated their views in IMSA’s planned integration of a spec hybrid powertrain into the so-called DPi 2022 regulations.
It comes following a tender initiated by the sanctioning body for a single-specification system, with costs having been proposed at one time to be in the range of $100,000.
While former IMSA President Scott Atherton confirmed plans to adopt hybrid technology during last year’s ‘State of the Series’ address, his successor, former Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan, is known to have been a proponent of cost containment.
When asked by Sportscar365, Mazda’s new motorsports boss Nelson Cosgrove echoed his company’s beliefs.
“From a Mazda standpoint and our cycle plan, we believe from the top down that there’s still a lot to get with internal combustion engines,” Cosgrove said.
“We feel an ICE engine [only] is where we’d probably prefer to be. But if it was a spec hybrid system and that’s what the series went with, I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker.”
Cosgrove has expressed concern of potential complications when adding hybrids to the mix.
“Moro-san [Masahiro Moro, Mazda North America CEO] has an interesting philosophy,” Cosgrove said.
“The ICE is pretty well understood how to control it. [Full] electric is pretty well understood how to control it. If you mix those two things together, it gets really difficult.”
GM Racing director Mark Kent shared similar beliefs to Cosgrove and Mazda, particularly with the production path Cadillac is headed.
The luxury automaker is set to concentrate on all-electric vehicles in its roadmap, having recently eliminated several hybrid models from its lineup.
“We are going all-electric,” Kent told Sportscar365 in October. “We’re not headed down a hybrid path.
“If it’s good for the series, if it will help the series, then we’ll support it.
“But our position has been that it’s got to be a spec system that we don’t get into a spending war on technology on hybridization. What is the right system and does it make sense?
“IMSA’s doing their due diligence on what’s possible and we look forward to what they come back with and see if it’s something we can support.”
Cosgrove said that there’s been “a lot to unpack” in recent DPi 2022 steering committee group meetings that are shaping the new-gen regulations.
It comes amid a likely convergence with the FIA and ACO’s Hypercar platform that would allow the different platforms to race in the same class through a Balance of Performance system.
Despite having initially been mandatory, hybrids have become optional in the Hypercar platform.
“It’s an interesting conversation,” Cosgrove said. “We’ve taken the approach that DPi 1.0 is one package onto itself DPi 2022 package is almost a different project. We’re going to have to evaluate where that is.
“I think it’s very exciting. Some of the items they’re talking about is super exciting, taking what we’ve done up to this point as a cohort of manufacturers and expanding on that would be a lot of fun.”
IMSA’s Doonan, meanwhile, has confirmed that a decision on the spec hybrid system, which was put up for tender last year, has not yet been made.
“We did an RFP (request for proposal) to hybrid providers,” he said.
“Now we can work with real costs and talk to those who have put their money where their mouth is and invested and are currently running with us if that’s the direction they think that will allow to tell their particular brand story the best.”
TRD: Hybrid Needed to Promote Relevancy
Hybrids will become a necessity in nearly all forms of motorsport according to Toyota Racing Development president and general manager David Wilson, who through Lexus Racing has been involved in DPi 2022 talks.
“All things being the same, we’re supportive of a hybrid component,” Wilson told Sportscar365.
“I know, because I have a foot in the NASCAR technological revolution that’s going on right now, there’s also the vision in that camp to have a hybrid component.
“We’ve discussed theoretically and hypothetically an ideal technical solution would be one that isn’t necessarily the same solution, because the cars are so different, but perhaps one that creates some efficiencies between the two series.
“Even on the IndyCar side, talk to Jay Frye about where that sport is going.
“The common denominator between every form of motorsport is the need for greater relevancy and hybridization and electrification is on everybody’s radar.”
Wilson said Lexus’ preference would be to have a “creditable” system that would do more than deploying electric power on pit lane and instead play a factor in the strategy of the race.
“If we’re going to go down this path, we want to store a significant amount of energy to be able to deploy it over the course of a race in a strategic manner. Can we do that with an off-the-shelf spec system and do it in a safe way?” he said.
Wilson has suggested the idea of potentially delaying the introduction of hybrids into DPi by a year or two, but having the infrastructure in place where it could be easily bolted-on to cars when the technology catches up.
“The good news is that, as we speak, the development continues to move forward every day,” he said.
“You can only believe that with that in mind, maybe it slips a year. And if it slips a year, it provides us a better solution overall and we can rationalize as an industry.”
Lexus is one of at least a half-dozen manufacturers currently not in DPi that are evaluating potential programs for the future.