Ford has ruled out a move to the top class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the FIA and ACO’s decision to remain with its Hypercar formula helping “narrow the focus” on its potential prototype future, according to Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook.
The American manufacturer had been one of six OEMs involved in FIA technical working group meetings to help define the new ruleset for the World Endurance Championship, which will debut in the 2020-21 season.
Rushbrook, who was present at Friday’s ACO press conference that confirmed its Hypercar direction, has declared Ford will not pursue an entry in the yet-to-be-named class.
“It was interesting to see the confirmation of Hypercar continuing in the direction they were,” he told Sportscar365,
“We won’t [pursue it] at this point because our principles are relevant, affordable and global. And while it’s global in WEC, it’s not global in allowing competition in IMSA.”
Ford’s decision to forgo involvement in the Hypercar class has left IMSA’s DPi formula as the lone remaining prototype option for the manufacturer, which remains undecided on its short and long-term sports car racing plans.
“What we still need, as we continue to work with IMSA as partners, those regulations are not final, and they look like they’re going in the right direction that is of interest for us,” Rushbrook said.
“We just need see them finalize and gel a little more.”
Rushbrook reaffirmed Ford’s requirement of a high-voltage hybrid system in IMSA’s next-generation DPi regulations, set to debut in 2022, in order to commit to the class.
A commitment to the current-generation DPi regulations, which runs for two additional seasons, is conditional on Ford’s hybrid requirements, which call for a 300-400v system capable of producing a minimum of 75 kW of electric power.
“We wouldn’t do a DPi program just for 2020 and 2021 without knowing we’ve got a good future in DPi 2.0,” Rushbrook said.
When asked if whether a Ford DPi is already under development for a potential 2020 program, Rushbrook said “we’re always prepared.”
Rushbrook also wouldn’t rule out taking a sabbatical from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the next two years prior to a 2022 DPi return, or potentially make a fist-gen DPi available to customers for next year.
Atherton: Interest Divided Between Low, High Voltage Hybrid Integration
While confirming the adoption of hybrid technology in DPi 2.0, IMSA has yet to finalize the size of the system, with series president Scott Atherton admitting there’s currently a divided interest among manufacturers.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback, and that continues,” Atherton told Sportscar365.
“The next meeting of that steering committee, which involves not only the manufacturers that are currently involved with us, but others that have expressed an interest – that’s on the books as soon as we return to the States.”
Atherton said they hope to make continued progress during the meeting, set for the week of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
“There are some that have come to us that have said that a lower-voltage system that’s consistent with what’s in their current road car is what they want,” he said. “Others have said no, like Ford, want a higher-power option.
“Others have said that they want to start somewhere and then have the ability to evolve over time, as the technology evolves.
“It’s very much a work in progress. The final decision, no doubt, will make some happy and others not so much.
“But it’s rare that any sanctioning body can make a regulatory decision that’s embraced positively by all.”