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Common Prototype Regs the “Guiding Principle” for Ford Commitment

Ford says common prototype regs are a “guiding principle” for its commitment…

Photo: Ford

Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook says that having a common set of top-level regulations between IMSA and WEC is one of its “guiding principles” for the manufacturer to commit to a prototype program.

The American automaker, which has been involved in technical working group meetings to help shape the ‘hypercar’ based platform the ACO revealed last week, has been eyeing its next steps following the likely conclusion of the Ford GT program at the end of next year.

Rushbrook indicated that a prototype effort is among the programs currently being evaluated in its global motorsports cycle plan, which also includes the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and newly confirmed FIA Electric World Rallycross Championship.

“We’ve participated in that general structure that’s been created and really what happens in the next sixth months in the technical working group will define ultimately what that class is and who is going to participate,” Rushbrook told Sportscar365.

“I’ll definitely say that the direction is correct but it’s the details that matter.

“Cost is a consideration for sure, but it’s also the technical details and the relevance of where the emphasis that will be placed on the development of the cars to enter, compete, and win.

“One of the things that we’re most interested in is the hybrid or electrification and making sure that’s done properly and that’s where the emphasis is based.”

The ACO confirmed the yet-to-be-named class will feature hybrid powertrains, with a single, front axle-mounted kinetic energy recovery system that will produce up to 200kW of electric power.

Manufacturers will be required to make its hybrid systems available for sale at a to-be-determined cost-cap.

While Ford has expressed interest in the new category, Rushbrook indicated that it could be a deal breaker if the regulations are not also adopted in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as a replacement to the current DPi formula.

IMSA President Scott Atherton has downplayed those prospects, stating that costs in the proposed new platform are the “biggest hurdle” compared to current DPi budgets, which is significantly less than the ACO’s proposed €25-30 million ($30-35 million) budget per season.

“One of our guiding principles as we’ve been studying this is global rules consistent with what we’re able to do today now with GT running in WEC in GTE-Pro and running in IMSA in GTLM,” Rushbrook said.

“It’s the same car that we’re able to run around the world. That is important for us at the prototype level as well: to be able to run globally.”

GM “Very Pleased” with Current DPi Formula

GM racing director Mark Kent has voiced his support on the continuation of IMSA’s current DPi regulations, which is confirmed through the 2021 WeatherTech Championship season.

Cadillac’s involvement in the DPi class is confirmed through “at least” next year, according to Kent.

“We’re very pleased with the current DPi formula,” Kent told Sportscar365.

“It’s very cost effective and it gives us the opportunity to do manufacturer-specific styling and the opportunity to do manufacturer-specific engines.

“We’re waiting to see what the new [ACO] regulations look like and if there’s a fit for us or not, which is not any different to what we do every year with every other series.”

Like Atherton, Kent stressed costs would be a driving factor, should IMSA adopt the platform.

Current DPi regulations are based on existing LMP2-based machinery, with manufacturers required to only produce bodywork and engines, which comes at a fraction of the cost compared to the design of a bespoke prototype.

“To their credit, it’s a significant reduction to where they’re at [with LMP1] so that’s the good news,” Kent said. “The bad news is that it’s significantly more than the current DPi platform.”

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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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