Connect with us


Atherton: Next-Gen Prototype Regs Talks “Ramping Up”

IMSA President Scott Atherton on future regs discussions; ACO LMP1 proposal latest…

Photo: IMSA

IMSA President Scott Atherton says that discussions on future prototype regulations are “ramping up” ahead of its pivotal decision on whether to combine with the FIA and ACO to create a common worldwide platform for manufacturers.

Representatives from all three organizations, as well as current and prospective manufacturers, met last week at Sebring for continued talks, as planning continues towards the next set of LMP1 regulations, which are set to launch as early as the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

While the IMSA boss nor any officials from the WEC and ACO provided details on the meeting, Sportscar365 understands that no firm decisions were made while at Sebring.

Atherton, however, said he remains optimistic for a potential unified future.

“If anything it’s ramping up in terms of the dialogue and the people involved in that dialogue is ever expanding,” he told Sportscar365.

“The fact that the ACO, it was unplanned to have Vincent [Beaumesnil, ACO Sporting Director] here so that was a nice add. We had a WebX conference call with an online presentation that went with it about ten days ago and with our DPi manufacturers and with those who have shown an interest.

“This meeting that was held [on Thursday] was just a follow on from that.

“We being the leadership of IMSA, Jim France, Ed Bennett, and myself, are meeting also with Pierre [Fillon] and Gerard [Neveu] on the same topic. Much less technical, more philosophical.

“I put all of that in the good category. The dialogue continues.

“The further along we go, the more clarity is on the vision and there will come a time in the not distant future where all of us will have to make some decision.”

Atherton indicated the ongoing discussions between the three organizations is “much more complex” than than three years ago, when talks for a common DPi/LMP2 platform essentially broke down over a disagreement from the ACO on the DPi’s philosophy.

While the two platforms compete alongside each other in the WeatherTech Championship, DPis are not eligible at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as originally planned, with standard bodywork.

“I would characterize these as being much more complex just because of the technology involved and the pre-existing conditions of both LMP1 and DPi,” Atherton said.

“We didn’t have that before. We were at the end of the useful life of the Daytona Prototype, everybody was ready for a fresh start.

“We knew going into it [that] it’s going to be a lot of compromise on everyone’s part. The challenge is defining that and what becomes acceptable and what becomes unacceptable.”

High-Powered Hybrids, Active Aero for LMP1?

A divide in philosophies for each of the championship’s premier classes could ultimately be the stopping block for a common platform.

Sportscar365 understands that one of recent concepts floated by the ACO involves high-powered hybrids, potentially aimed to retain current LMP1 lap times at Le Mans. 

While the power output would be restricted to the rear wheels only, cars could also have active aero, which is being suggested as a form of cost savings to eliminate the development of multiple aero kits.

Currently, DPi manufacturers are restricted to a single aero package with only minor modifications permitted, such as rear wing angle and dive plane adjustments, with its power output in the 575-600 horsepower range.

ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil declined to confirm details of any ideas or discussions with manufacturers when asked by Sportscar365.

IMSA Has “Flexibility” on New Regs Confirmation

Atherton, meanwhile, said IMSA has some “flexibility” on the timeframe for confirmation of the future ruleset.

The sanctioning body recently extended its current DPi regulations through the end of the 2021 season, with Atherton stating that any potential new regs would not debut in the WeatherTech Championship until 2022 at the earliest.

That compares to the FIA and ACO’s timeframe for the 2020-21 WEC season, although it’s understood it could be pushed back by one season to 2021-22.

ACO President Pierre Fillon previously outlined the target of unveiling its new LMP1 regulations at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“It’s an obvious goal, and it’s an understandable goal,” Atherton said of an announcement this June. “In a perfect world it would be easy to say why not. I think there’s a lot of work being done right now and I don’t want to predict success or failure of meeting that deadline.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. CookieMonsterFL

    March 21, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I like the active aero idea, and honestly that could be another ‘alt-tech’ avenue that can be utilized for a cheaper alternative to expensive hybrid tech – although i understand the current idea would help restrict power to rears only while still giving very fast lap times at Le Mans.

    Active-aero is something we aren’t talking enough about as a future alt-tech, IMO.

    • Bird

      March 21, 2018 at 10:34 am

      I never understood why active aero isn’t a bigger put of motorsports.

      • Anonymous

        March 21, 2018 at 11:24 am

        Put it simply because it works too well! When Williams unveiled the FW92 in 1992 (the car Mansell drove to the title) the car used a combination of active suspension and active aero! It was basically a full size Slot Car Racer, you just put your foot down and the car did the rest. As a result it promptly went on and won all but I think it was 2 races (Thanks largely to Senna’s skill in the McLaren). Williams retained most of the tech for 1993 (which led to Prost taking his 4th and last title) but after complaints from Flávio Briatori, Ron Dennis and Luca De Montezemelo at Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari respectively the technology was banned for 1994 and F1 has never gone near it since. The F-Duct that materialised in about 2010 was the first active aero in F1 until the introduction of DRS a year or so later.

      • Matt

        March 21, 2018 at 8:28 pm

        It’s irrelevant to road vehicles and is and, at the end of the day, it lessens the requirement for driver skill. It hurts real racing. I would hate to see it on P1 cars.

  2. Old Trombone

    March 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Isn’t this the moment when the ACO/FIA should be coming to IMSA and saying “How much and where do we sign”

    Right now, Acofia is acting exactly like the Monty Python Knight, no arms, no legs, no sword, yet full of vim and vigor “come back ‘ere and I’ll bite yer legs off!”

  3. jason

    March 21, 2018 at 10:35 am

    IMSA needs to do what is best for them. They have tried ACO/FIA cooperation in the past and they get screwed over again and again. Leaving DPI out of LM, AlonsoGate, even going back to the ALMS Sebring WEC debacle in 2012, not to mention the WEC stealing teams from the series. Especially when it comes to the prototype category. Forget them.

    • Tyler Sanders

      March 21, 2018 at 11:17 am

      How did the WEC steal teams from IMSA?

      • jason

        March 21, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        They stole Audi primarily from the ALMS. Who knows what other cars or teams would have ran in the American Le Mans Series if it were not for the ILMC/WEC coming in.

        • Steven

          March 21, 2018 at 7:11 pm

          What??? They never stole Audi. Audi’s factory team was run by Audi Sport Team Joest. ADT Champion Racing was a North American privateer program up until 2006. In 2006-08, Champion Racing was run under the banner of Audi Sport North America as the de-facto “factory” team for the ALMS.

          When ILMC/WEC was formed in 2009. Audi Sport Team Joest (along with Peugeot) was to run in the ILMC only as it was to promote the brand on a global scale and not one specific market.

          In all honesty, the ILMC was a huge promotion for Petit Le Mans. I went to the races from 2009-2011 and with just Audi and Peugeot’s presence, the attendance rose dramatically. the 2011 Petit weekend had over 100K spectators with a near 60 car field. The ILMC should’ve still been the format instead of the WEC because that format helped each series in ALMS, ELMS, and the AsLMS.

      • Anon

        March 21, 2018 at 12:13 pm

        I do know for a fact an IMSA team moved to the WEC because IMSA was giving huge BOP breaks to certain teams/manufactures and not others

      • GridS2Plaza

        March 21, 2018 at 12:57 pm

        WEC originated off of the backs of what ALMS created. No WEC without ALMS.

        What history is there to believe these 2 organizations will ever come to a unified strategy. Talk is cheap at this point and everyone is “working closely” together. Sounds all too familiar.

  4. RobertB

    March 21, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Blah. Why are current lap times at Le Mans so precious all of a sudden? Who give a rip? Hybrid is cool and all, but it costs a fortune. Let’s just leave it to the hypercar manufacturers for now and stick with good old fashioned gas engines. Still plenty of tech and development there to get excited about and teams don’t need the budget of a small country to compete for a season.

    • TF110

      March 21, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Because lmp2 is faster than ever so lmp1 has to be it’s current speed to keep them at the front. No one (to my knowledge) wants spec cars running for wins in an FIA World Championship. That’s why lmp1 exists and is more subscribed than ever.

      • Tyler Sanders

        March 21, 2018 at 11:17 am

        I Could not agree more.

      • Matt

        March 21, 2018 at 8:38 pm

        Uh….. then maybe let P1 cars run with more powerful engine?? These P1 cars could easily have 1000+ hp engines for a fraction of the cost of the current powertrains. Current P2 cars are not that fast, they used to be faster in 2007-2010ish before they were slowed down. As a fan who attends races, I’d much rather see awesome sounding P1 cars with ferocious engines than the current dull hybrid powertrains.

        • Steven

          March 21, 2018 at 9:18 pm

          That is 100% false on the P2 part. This is actually the fastest LMP2 has ever been. They shattered every track record last year in the P2 class in the ELMS/WEC. (Until the Continental Tire supply gets dropped from IMSA, those record will remain.)

          Lap times at Le Mans:
          2017: 3:25.352 (Oreca 07)
          2008: 3:32.301 (Porsche RS Spyder)
          2010: 3:33.079 (HPD ARX-01C)
          2016: 3:36.605 (Oreca 05)
          2009: 3:37.720 (Porsche RS Spyder)

          • Dave Henrie

            March 22, 2018 at 6:15 pm

            I can’t speak for all the lMP2 times, but I do remember the Porsche RS Spyder was required to run an extra drag producing addition to it’s rear wing, other-wise they might have been even faster

          • Matt

            March 26, 2018 at 11:55 pm

            You’re way off… P2’s are faster in Europe on the smooth prissy tracks where top speed is more important. In the ALMS, the old P2’s were much faster and directly competed with the P1 Audi’s because of their weight advantage.

    • AudiTT

      March 21, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Hybrids are now an everyday part of the road car industry. From $20,000 cars to $2m hypercars. It isn’t some unreachable tech that automatically means $100m budgets.

      Combustion engine tech has been maxed out. And in a racing capacity we are constantly strangling them with air restrictors and fuel flow……so what’s the point.

      • RobertB

        March 21, 2018 at 1:26 pm

        I’m no expert, but the hybrid tech that give a Prius good milage isn’t quite the same as what’s in a McClaren P1. Or maybe it is, what the hell do I know? I do disagree with you said about the combustion engine, though. They get more advanced each year and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. The engine in the RS version of your username is a dynamite engine that’s fairly new.

      • Matt

        March 21, 2018 at 5:56 pm

        The combustion engine is not close to being maxed out. What malarkey.

      • Matt

        March 21, 2018 at 8:43 pm

        Stop strangling the engines with restrictors and what kind of power they can actually make? 1000hp is 80’s tech. Let manufacturers race with stressed racing engines. It’d be much more exciting than the current hybrid powertrains.

  5. Realist

    March 21, 2018 at 10:50 am

    It won’t happen.

  6. guest

    March 21, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Hilarious. Typical ACO, appease their current stakeholder by designing P1 regulations for them alone and telling IMSA the waters are safe to come in and play. We’re not that stupid! Why are they so stubborn? They need a hard reset on the regs to appeal to multiple manufacturers, not continue with the same overly expensive mess.

    • Luna

      March 21, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      Very very true. Imsa should not lissen to those buffoons of ACO and FIA.

  7. N8

    March 21, 2018 at 11:14 am

    “for manufacturers” huh? How many of those are in LMP1 again? How many would there if Toyota had that LM win under their belt?

    I’m pro-hybrid, but we’re past the point of development on what is now an extremely common system. All 3 manufacturers in WEC were using the same concept at the end. F1 ERS is to spec. Hybrid systems are just being put into race cars for the sake of putting them into race cars and Toyota is the only OEM in the world that cares, arguably. Everyone else is on to 30 year old R/C car technology at full scale.

    How about “for racing teams”? You know, the group that came with 8 brand new cars to the top category for the Super Season after the manufactures priced themselves out and jumped ship. Call me crazy, but obviously, the next gen rules package should be geared the people out here doing it, not OEM’s who say they might be IF the rules are in line with their brand message. What’s Peugeot done for sportscar racing in the past few years that should put their needs ahead of Bart Hayden’s, besides being the original WEC ship-jumper?

  8. Mart

    March 21, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Leave it as it is in IMSA. ACO is an unreliable party.

  9. pdxracefan

    March 21, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    We’ve been listening to this tune for quite awhile. It never amounted to anything before, highly doubtful it will now.

  10. The Truth

    March 21, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Where’s Jess at? I’d love to hear what the fictitious 2 car soon to be announced prototype program that has been testing for 2 years has to say about this.

  11. John

    March 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    I’ll believe it when it happens.

    The bottom line is going to be each series will write their rules to whomever they can sign up to race, and getting those reconciled is as unlikely as it is difficult.

    Right now, there are two factions — one that favors tech, and one that doesn’t.

    Toyota has steadfastly indicated that they’re only interested if there is a tech (hyrbid) element involved. Ford has also indicated they’d open to that…if they move up, but that’s also contingent on rules commonality (!). That is by no means guaranteed, especially with Nair’s firing (he championed the sports car effort). I can easily see Ford dropping out altogether, as it’s in the middle of another rebuild and the new management was brought into bring pragmatism to the company. Now that they say they’re serious about electrics, FE could even be the fashionable option.

    Then there’s everyone else. I won’t take McLaren seriously until they put some real skin into the game. They haven’t even ponied up a GTE/GTLM entry.

    The IMSA teams don’t want, nor can they afford the tech elements. They just want an easy and cheaper way to compete at the LM24 with their existing equipment. Tech is not what the series is about, and if you think BoP is bad now, add hybrid and aero into the mix. Yeah…raise your hands if you want that.

    The ACO has its foibles, but don’t think for a moment that IMSA woudn’t do the same if the situation was reversed. ACO reneged on their promise to allow DPis, while IMSA’s LMP2 “baseline” is below ground. Both are going to protect their fiefdoms and territories.

    Basic component sharing, like P2 chassis, doable. Otherwise, don’t expect P1 to emulate GTE/LM.

  12. fernando martins

    March 21, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    All I want is to see good old fashioned sports car racing. For that to happen we must rules that allow manufacturers and private teams to compete without spending a fortune. That’s what IMSA has. And even that is starting to get expensive, but it’s sustainable. The ACO has a vision and an agenda that does not work, look at the turn around that they had to do to get P1 cars on the grid this year, and still, (unless they break down) we’ll have a Toyota weekend drive. So why not adapt DPI as the main class? That will ensure enough manufacturers at Le Mans and more full season entries in IMSA. Leave P2 alone and make them the supporting category. On a good day, they can create an upset and get an overall win. Anytime the ACO gets involved we have a mess. It’s time for teh ACO to bow to IMSA, not the other way round. So stop the nonsense of active aero and all that stuff that will do nothing but make the racing artificial and costs money, while not doing anything for the paying spectator.

  13. Sir Skidsalot

    March 22, 2018 at 3:28 am

    IMSA should up the ante and increase the power output of their DPI cars to make them competitive with LMP1 cars, with new spec cars using updated chassis to LMP1 specs. Then make the LMP2 cars a Pro/Am type series as the 2nd of 4 classes to fill in where the PC cars were a few years ago (when they were closer to DP speeds). All of the old (current) DPi cars could revert back to their LMP2 roots get spec engines and become available for privateers.

    Then let the ACO and FIA react to what would probably be a pretty popular formula to the auto makers and the LMP2 guys would have the same status in IMSA as they have now in WEC.

  14. Av

    March 22, 2018 at 4:03 am

    The AMLS and Mr. Panoz saved Le Mans. The WEC is because of the AMLS. Without the AMLS there would have not been any WEC. But, as soon as the ACO was able to create the WEC the ACO ran away with their program as if the AMLS did not existed and left Mr. Panoz and the AMLS by themselves lying on the ground. Until this day I still have hear the ACO say “thank you” for what the AMLS did for them and for Le Mans. I would love to see a unification. But we should not forget about how the ACO has done things in the past. I don’t think the ACO respects what the Americans have done for them. They seem to believe that because they have Le Mans everyone else means little or nothing. Again, I am 100% wishing for unification. But, we should not bow for them again. They don’t deserve it. They have already show us who they really are.

  15. Haskellb

    March 22, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Don’t trust a thing that comes out of those French weasels until it is in writing, signed and they have called for drivers to start engines at Circuit de la Sarthe. This is a desperation move to save their precious/over hyped/over priced LMP1-H’s. They would walk away in a second if Toyota decided to stay and they got a second manufacturer for the 2019/20 season.

  16. Richard Reeves

    March 22, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    As I keep preaching…the fundamental flaw in all this is that the organizing bodies keep turning to non-electric/Hybrid technologies for reasons of economy…while street cars race ahead to electric vehicles. The curve is now being set by street cars and their manufacturers NOT supposedly advanced racing cars. The major race car series are in a race all right: toward irrelevance.

    Relatively inexpensive electric technology is the key to the future; why can’t racing manufacturers and organizers grasp this concept and produce results? Is a Prius as expensive as a Lambo? Get real, dudes, and produce racing equivalents of these street cars that are relatively affordable….

    If not: Perish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More in FIA WEC