Dallara has assembled dedicated development teams for its BMW and Cadillac LMDh projects that are in ‘different, password-protected rooms’ at its headquarters according to the company’s senior-level executive Max Angelelli.
The Italian constructor is the first to work with multiple competing OEMs in the DPi or LMDh eras and has taken extreme measures to protect each brand’s intellectual property and development phases.
Angelelli explained that more than 80 people are currently involved in Dallara’s LMDh project overall, which is separated into shared and dedicated groups, all reporting to chief technical officer Aldo Costa.
“The spine [of the car] is the constructor’s responsibility,” Angelelli told Sportscar365. “We are responsible for the spine and there’s a definition for the spine.
“We need to make sure that the spine is something that’s going to take different engines, different bodies, etc.
“We have a dedicated working group for the spine. Then we have a group of people for BMW and a group of people for Cadillac.
“They are very separate in different rooms.
“The spine guys, they have to make sure everything goes OK with Cadillac and BMW because that’s common.
“But inside the BMW and Cadillac groups you have the aero guys, the powertrain, systems and electronics guys.”
Access is controlled within Dallara’s Varano de’ Melegari facility depending on the specific projects, including at its state-of-the-art 50 percent scale wind tunnel.
“They are in different rooms and you have to have a password to get in,” Angelelli explained.
“The guy that works with BMW does not talk or go anywhere near the other manufacturer.
“When there’s a wind tunnel test, for example, the doors are only opening to those people for that test for that day.
“The doors are then closed so you don’t see people working.
“When someone gets out one door, all the others are locked, so nobody knows who is in the tunnel.
“Most of the time, even I don’t know who’s in the tunnel because you don’t see the people [coming in] or coming out because everything’s locked.”
Out of the four LMDh constructors, Angelelli believes that Dallara is the best-equipped to handle multiple OEMs due to the sheer size of the company, which employs more than 700 people.
He said they currently have the capacity to support a third LMDh project for 2023, with the target of ramping up to a fourth or even fifth different OEM by 2025.
This would be achieved once its development teams hand off the BMW and Cadillac programs to Dallara’s race engineering staff, which would free up the development teams for new LMDh projects.
“We will have an intermediate period where the development phases out and the performance [engineers] kicks in,” Angelelli explained.
“They will work together for a little bit and then performance stays and we go racing [in 2023].”
Angelelli added: “When you compare the different pricing from the different constructors, you have to look at how many people [are involved].
“That’s where the difference is apparent between us and our competitors. It’s because we have these separate groups and it takes money to do it.
“But it gives the manufacturer something that is unique. You can’t just replicate it. Another constructor can’t just do it.”
Angelelli: LMDh Spine an “Evolution” of DPi
The shared components between all OEMs partnered with each constructor — known internally as the ‘spine’ — is comprised of the tub, suspension and other parts, which is an evolution from the first-generation LMP2 and DPi specifications introduced in 2017.
Angelelli said knowledge from the DPi era has been transitioned into the new-generation chassis structure.
“The parameter of the spine has a little bit of differences, which we can say is an evolution of the current DPi spine,” he explained.
“It’s more defined. The LMDh concept is a step forward from DPi, what was learned in the DPi.
“When you do a new project, you’re like, ‘Man I should have done this or that.’ Everything has been applied in LMDh. It’s a lot simpler and there’s a lot less questions.
“As far as the cars themselves, it’s another generation.
“Especially for us, there’s nothing common with the DPi, thanks to Aldo [Costa] and his know-how that he brought has been a revolution.”