The debut of the LMDh platform could be delayed by a year according to IMSA President John Doonan, who has stressed that the market will dictate the ultimate timeline for its launch.
Announced on Thursday, the ACO and IMSA took the wraps off the much-anticipated ruleset for the joint top-class prototype platform, having released its draft set of technical regulations.
While maintaining the initial target of launching the regulations in 2022 in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Doonan has admitted that it could be pushed back due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The key now is giving the manufacturers the opportunity to digest it, analyze it with their technical teams and really to just get it out there,” Doonan told Sportscar365.
“The timeline is going to be driven by the market. They’re the key to all this, the OEMs.
“Once we got the regulations into their hands, now it’s really going to be dictated by them relative to when we actually see this format racing.
“Whether that’s early 2022, which we’d all love to stretch to that goal, but it may get put off a year, and that’s OK.
“No matter when it happens we want it to be right.”
A delay in the rollout of LMDh would result in the current DPi regulations being extended into 2022, for what would be the platform’s sixth year.
Doonan said IMSA hasn’t gotten any clear indication if a delay will be necessary.
“We’ve been in touch with all [of the manufacturers] and I think… just giving them a chance to get their core business back up and running is a key priority in the auto industry,” he said.
“This type of topic, both for brand-building and powertrain integration and styling cues integration, I think that’s going to be on their minds, when they can do that in a proper and timely manner.
“Now they have a little bit more meat on the bones with the regulations, they can have their engineering teams do more studies.
“They can have more formal discussions as they align with a particular constructor.
“We’re pretty excited about the response we received and hope that it generates even more detailed questions from the manufacturers about certain aspects of the rules.”
When asked if IMSA and WEC would make the decision collectively, Doonan said there’s “no question” they’d want to be in “lockstep” with each other.
“We obviously need to continue to connect with one another and be on the same page,” he said.
“I think there’s no question that we want to be in lockstep with the ACO and WEC.
“One of the most beautiful things about this, and what made what we announced in January so historic, is that it’s putting the manufacturers in a place and both of our championships in a place where people can use the same equipment and in both places, all on the same stage.”
Doonan: LMDh Presents Opportunity for Growth
With more than a dozen manufacturers having been involved in technical working group meetings to define the LMDh regulations, Doonan said he’s optimistic about the platform’s future.
While not disclosing a target number of manufacturers for the first season, Doonan indicated that it could generate more involvement than the three current ones represented in DPi.
“Based on the portfolio of people that have been around the table, I believe our fans will always have a favorite brand that they can identify with, which is extremely special,” he said.
“Without, in any way shape or form committing anybody, I think the encouragement among the current investors Acura, Cadillac and Mazda is really strong but there’s many, many more. As it said in the release over a dozen [manufacturers] are really interested.
“It would be hard for me to put a number out there just because I think the market really needs to speak.
“They have some major priorities now with their core business that they need to focus on.
“But without a doubt, both IMSA and the ACO see this as an opportunity for more manufacturers to join the cost-effective platform. No question, everyone wants to see growth.”