The agreement between the ACO and IMSA to establish a common platform for the top level of prototype racing is the “best vision” for the future of the sport, according to FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu.
Announced on Friday, the tie-up between the two major sports car sanctioning bodies focuses on the creation of a new formula called LMDh that will be eligible for both the WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The agreement was officially signed off by senior figures from both organizations with the intention to present further technical details at Sebring in March.
“After many months of work and meetings, we have found a solution to provide a stage where we protect both championships together,” Neveu told Sportscar365.
“At the same time, we respect the best wishes of the main OEMs involved in sports car racing.
“In the near future, we will be able to see in the same races all these cars fighting for the victory together. It’s the best vision we can provide today for endurance racing.”
Neveu explained that the transition to new prototype formulas in both the WEC and IMSA presented the best opportunity for the two sides to realize a common formula.
“The wish has been made [for] a long time, very frankly,” he said.
“It was important to find a window to do it properly. I would say that the entrance of the new LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) category and the arrival of DPi 2.0 provided a period when it was possible to find a way.
“We have been inspired by both platforms to create this new dedicated [LMDh] car.
“The fact also that it’s the time when we delay the arrival of the new LMP2 chassis to 2022: it was to make sure that we would be on the right timing together and that we can propose a sole economic situation.
“It means that in the future you will be able to use the base of the same chassis in the different categories which is very good.”
IMSA president John Doonan described the agreement as “magical” and that the rules will be forged to allow for “long term” involvement from manufacturers.
“It’s absolutely transforming that a manufacturer could decide to race in the WeatherTech Championship,” he said, “knowing they have an opportunity to compete at Le Mans on a global scale, as well as a team running in the World Endurance Championship to come to Daytona, to come to Sebring and to come to Petit Le Mans.”
Doonan suggested that the convergence process will take place “over the next many years” to address the overlap in manufacturers that have already subscribed to Le Mans Hypercar.
“Everybody up here today, from Mr. France to Mr. Fillon to Gerard to Ed [Bennett, IMSA CEO] and myself, all believe that would be the ultimate outcome, one single formula,” he explained.
“But obviously there are people that have committed to [Le Mans] Hypercar. There are manufacturers that are committed to DPi here.
“Over the next many years, we’re going to see a convergence and that I think that will be a dream come true.”
IMSA Chairman Jim France said the convergence came about both as the product of a longstanding dream between the two sanctioning bodies and as a response to growing OEM manufacturer support for a common platform.
“It’s a goal that we’ve shared for a number of years, to be able to bring the overall opportunity for a win at Le Mans and Daytona together,” he expressed.
“We’ve continued the work together through our technical groups that have been working through the current LMP2 and DPi program.
“We now have an opportunity at hand to have a car capable of victory in both of our iconic events [at Le Mans and Daytona].
“I can’t speak for the manufacturers, but we have spent a great deal of time listening to the manufacturers.
“It’s kind of a universal thread that they are requesting both of the ACO and IMSA to have a category that they could compete in that will allow them to advertise their investments in motorsports across a broader range of series and on a global basis.
“This is our major step to accommodate those wishes.”
John Dagys contributed to this report