ACO President Pierre Fillon and FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu have expressed their desire to have a common LMP1 and DPi platform with IMSA for its next set of regulations, due in 2020.
The FIA and ACO revealed changes to its LMP1 regulations last weekend, alongside a switch to a winter calendar beginning with a 18-month “Super Season” for the WEC, which kicks off in May.
With the adjusted LMP1 rules locked in for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, technical delegates and prospective manufacturers are set to meet in the coming weeks to begin discussions for a “substantially altered” set of 2020 regs.
That could include an evolution of IMSA’s DPi platform, with Fillon open to the possibility of common LMP1-DPi regulations.
“We have to open the discussion,” Fillon told Sportscar365 in Mexico City. “What is the future of LMP1 and what is the future of DPi?
“Remember that I was very enthusiastic about a common prototype between [ACO and IMSA] and for me it’s not a dream. I think we can work on that.”
While Fillon felt IMSA’s DPi concept drifted too far away from the FIA and ACO’s new-for-2017 LMP2 regulations, he now sees a potential opportunity with LMP1.
IMSA’s four-year homologation cycle for its current DPi platform ends in 2020, which coincides with the launch of the new LMP1 regulations later that year.
A number of questions, however, would still need to be answered, including the use of hybrid powertrains, which the ACO is hoping to continue with in its top class, but in a more cost-effective manor.
“I hope we will go in this direction,” Neveu told Sportscar365. “If this partnership works very well between IMSA and the ACO, when we are looking for the long-term, in 2020, why we cannot imagine to have a [joint set of regulations] or something like this between these cars.
“It could be an interesting way. The DPi could be with LMP1.
“I don’t know how it would work; that’s not my question today. But we stay totally open to discuss.
“Our interest is to see a very strong WeatherTech Championship with a very high level. We have to find the best way to run together and to do a clear development.”
It’s understood a number of manufacturers, including McLaren, are behind the concept of common regulations that would allow the same base prototype to compete for overall wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring.
McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown said they would “seriously consider” mounting a prototype effort should there be a global platform eligible in both championships.
“If we could come up with a formula that works for all, I think that would be great for the world of sports car racing,” he told Sportscar365.
Neveu and Fillon, meanwhile, have downplayed the prospects of current-generation DPis being part of the WEC, or having its own class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the short-term.
“DPi is a very interesting model,” Neveu said. “It’s working today in North America for the WeatherTech Championship.
“This car is fighting with LMP2s. I have no space in the WEC to welcome an additional category.
“If the question is, we don’t have LMP1 so we can maybe imagine DPi. But that’s not the case. We have Toyota, we still have Peugeot working seriously to arrive. There’s other manufacturers that are interested.
“We have at least 4-5 LMP1s coming next year with privateers. This category clearly exists.
“I cannot say to Dallara and the other people building [LMP1 non-hybrids] for [the class] to disappear. That’s not the question.”
Fillon noted that the current DPi interest level for Le Mans may not be as high as initially suspected.
With being nearly 100kg heavier than LMP1 non-hybrids and producing 100 horsepower less, it’s unlikely the cars, in its present configuration, would be able to challenge for the overall win on outright pace, should it be allowed.
“The performance of DPi is [very similar] to P2,” Fillon said. “Do you think if DPi would want to go to Le Mans without fighting for the [overall win]? This is a very good question.”