The FIA and ACO have not ruled out the integration of next-generation DPi machinery into its new top class, which is already set to feature cars from at least three different sets of technical regulations in the 2020-21 World Endurance Championship season.
The development comes in the wake of the addition of production-based hypercars alongside the previously confirmed prototypes with hypercar styling, which will join grandfathered LMP1 cars that will be eligible for at least the initial season.
With the yet-to-be-named category set for a slowdown from its original target of 3:25 race laps at Le Mans, WEC CEO Gerard Neveu revealed that other types of cars that fit its targeted performance window could be considered, including IMSA’s DPi machinery.
Neveu said that it has “maintained the link” to IMSA with regular meetings between the organizations, although has essentially conceded that a full adoption of its Hypercar regs in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will not likely occur.
“I think from both sides, since the beginning, is if we can find [a way] to… have a similar level of performance levels at the top categories, it would be very helpful for the future together,” Neveu said.
“At the same time, we have a permanent discussion between the top of the technical departments of the FIA, ACO and IMSA regarding the situation.
“IMSA has explained us what the plan is with DPi. We clearly know that the evolution is [for] January 2022.
“The fact is that if we can find a way to rejoin one day, it would be better. This is always what we’re looking for.”
According to Neveu, the possible integration of DPis would come down to the performance levels of both platforms under their respective new regulations.
It was confirmed last week that the FIA and ACO’s Hypercar class will be slowed even further, with a new target of 3:30 race laps at Le Mans, which is slower than the performance level of current-gen DPis and LMP2 cars.
Few details, however, have emerged on IMSA’s target for DPi 2.0, other than it likely featuring a hybrid powertrain.
“If it’s possible to do it, why not?” Neveu said. “If the level of performance is similar, it would work very well. The question is the level of performance at the end.
“This is why we have for the final version of the regulations to see. You have to go step by step.
“Let’s see what will be the final version of the regulations we will use at Le Mans and the WEC in the near future.
“At this moment, let’s see how it will work with the new regulations of DPi. It will be the question [then]. It’s impossible to say [now].”
ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil said they “respect” the diversity that’s always featured in endurance racing and at Le Mans.
“Today, the DPi is 80 percent ACO car by regulation,” he said. “It’s a LMP2 chassis so we are very proud of the success of DPi because we have built, with the FIA, a big part of the technical [side] of this car.
“It’s very well adapted to USA. Is it adapted to Europe? Good question.”
Atherton Still Holding Out Hope for Shared Global Platform
IMSA President Scott Atherton, meanwhile, said he’s still holding out hope for a common top-class platform that would be shared between the WEC and WeatherTech Championship.
While not having been in direct dialogue with Neveu or Beaumesnil on their suggestion, Atherton admitted the inclusion of next-gen DPis would be a welcome development from manufacturers.
“There’s no doubt that some of our DPi competitors would embrace such an opportunity,” he said.
“But we are still holding out that there could potentially be a global solution here.
“There’s been a lot of inquiry with our existing stakeholders, manufacturers, constructors, teams, to determine what the priorities are for the next-generation example.
“There’s hope. Hope is not a strategy but the right people are talking.”
Hydrogen on Track for 2024 Le Mans Debut
ACO President Pierre Fillon confirmed that the integration of hydrogen-powered cars at Le Mans are still on track for a 2024 debut.
However, instead of its own class, as initially indicated during the announcement last year, it now appears the cars will compete within the top class, which would add another platform to the mix.
“This is a work in progress but [it will be a mix] with the same performance,” Fillon said.