It’s “too early to say” whether Le Mans Hypercars will be permitted to race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship amid the arrival of the new LMDh global prototype platform.
Confirmed on Friday, IMSA and ACO officially signed an agreement that will see a common prototype platform, with a targeted debut in the 2021-22 FIA World Endurance Championship season followed by the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2022.
While LMDh will be eligible in both championships, and Le Mans Hypercars confirmed for its previously announced five-season cycle in the WEC, executives from both sanctioning bodies have been noncommittal on its potential eligibility for the WeatherTech Championship.
“It’s too early to say that,” WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said. “You have to wait for the Sebring announcement regarding the exact [technical] details of the cars.
“Depending on the level of performance, you will know if it’s possible or not.
“The stage is open, and the technical guys are working on the details.
“Frankly, a big part of the job is already achieved. We are not starting from a blank page, but this is in the process now. In a few weeks, we will have the exact details.”
IMSA President John Doonan echoed Neveu’s sentiments, stating that the BoP process “will dictate” whether the ACO’s prototype and production-based Hypercar formula would also be eligible in North America.
“We don’t know yet,” Doonan told Sportscar365. “The BoP process will dictate. Today is about, and the goal is, convergence.
“It’s going to be a BoP challenge regardless of how we look at it. So right now the vision is LMDh is able to run in IMSA, WEC and at Le Mans.”
Neveu stressed that “nothing has changed” on the Hypercar’s eligibility in WEC, which was announced last June and will run through 2026.
Both Toyota and Aston Martin are in the process of building cars to those regulations, which will debut in the 2020-21 WEC season.
“We have extended the stage,” Neveu said. “Now you will have more possibilities to join these top categories, so nothing is changing.
“These people (LM Hypercar manufacturers) have been already informed about LMDh. We spoke with them before and they will communicate themselves.
“The return we have is that they are very happy about the fact that it has provided the chance to have a better grid with more competitors and o make a better story.”
Neveu said he personally hopes measures could be put into place to allow the likes of Toyota and Aston Martin compete in IMSA’s blue-ribboned events such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“Imagine the Toyota… can you imagine that they would be able to race on this side of the ocean for this biggest event like Sebring or Daytona? Let’s see what’s possible,” he said.
“It’s too early to answer this question. We have to finalize first all the technical definitions, then we will know exactly what is the performance level, what it is possible to do.”
Toyota, Aston Martin React to LMDh News
Both Toyota and Aston Martin have acknowledged Friday’s news although await further details on how the integration process will unfold between the different platforms.
“Aston Martin Racing is pleased to note that the future of sports car racing’s top class has been secured and that the FIA, the ACO and IMSA have been able to work together to find a common path,” a statement from the British manufacturer read.
“We await further details of the new Hypercar/LMDh class with interest and look forward to working closely with all parties to ensure that the Hypercar vision retains its proper position within global sports car competition.”
Toyota, meanwhile, has indicated its desire to continue with bespoke hybrid technology, something LMDh will not feature with a spec hybrid powertrain planned.
“We want the possibility to improve our road-relevant hybrid technology in WEC and we welcome the chance to test our technology against even more manufacturers,”
“We are sure this will create even more excitement for endurance fans in the new Le Mans Hypercar era.”