Ford and Ferrari are among the manufacturers no longer attending the meetings to shape the FIA and ACO’s proposed ‘Hypercar’ regulations, which are due to come into force in the 2020-21 World Endurance Championship.
Sportscar365 has learned that both automakers, along with Porsche, which were among the half-dozen manufacturers in roundtable discussions prior to the ACO’s announcement of the platform at Le Mans in June, have been absent from recent technical working group meetings in Paris.
It’s understood up to 15 invites were sent to manufacturers, constructors and suppliers, with active involvement from only Toyota and Aston Martin on the OEM front and McLaren represented by an employee from McLaren Applied Technologies.
Representatives from leading prototype constructors ORECA and Onroak Automotive, however, have also been present, along with engine supplier Gibson.
While attendance is not mandatory, manufacturers that do not participate in the meetings are unable to provide direct input into the shape of the regulations, and have historically not taken up programs.
Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook acknowledged its absence from meetings but said they are still monitoring developments from afar.
It comes amid speculation that Ford has already internally committed to a DPi program for as early as 2019.
“We’re still following the process to see where it goes,” Rushbrook told Sportscar365.
“We’ve established what our principles are that would interest us in that series or not and we’re following along to see where it ends up.”
Rushbrook indicated that Ford will not enter the yet-to-be-named top prototype class in the WEC unless the same platform is utilized in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is due for a regulations refresh in 2022.
“Our principles are that it’s got to be global, meaning the same set of rules exist in WEC and IMSA, it’s got to be affordable and it’s got to be relevant,” he said.
A rift with the ACO stemming from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which saw the Ferrari 488 GTEs struggle in GTE-Pro following multiple class-wide balance of performance adjustments, is believed to have contributed to the Italian manufacturer’s departure from the talks.
Atherton: “Nothing’s Changed” on IMSA’s Position
IMSA President Scott Atherton says they remain committed to “seeing this process through” with the FIA and ACO before coming to a final decision on the potential adoption of the Hypercar regs.
The proposed budgets, in the €25-30 million ($30-35 million) range, is the “biggest hurdle” for IMSA, according to Atherton, who confirmed that Simon Hodgson, its VP of competition, was in the initial TWG meeting last month.
“Nothing’s changed from our perspective coming out of the announcements at Le Mans in that we’re committed to seeing this process through,” Atherton told Sportscar365.
“The goal right now is to be aligned in this global platform which is coming at you full speed… It’s a full commitment on our part to see this through, and I think our voice in the room is valid.”
Atherton said a decision will likely be taken during the finalization of the regulations, which are due to be presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for approval in early December.
It’s understood the next meeting is set for later this month.