Ginetta is exploring an idea to provide a platform for OEMs in the new Le Mans Hypercar formula as part of its aim to continue its top-level sports car involvement beyond LMP1.
The British constructor has been in discussions with two potential customers about creating an LMH base car for which brands can go on to develop their own powertrains.
Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson told Sportscar365 that his company has been evaluating LMH “the whole time” but is now working out how to act on the regulations.
He said that Ginetta can call on its previous projects, specifically the G60-LT-P1 that runs in the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1 class, to influence a new design.
The idea of providing a platform to OEMs appears similar to IMSA’s LMDh concept, but it would enable the brands to develop their own electric hybrid systems rather than just the engine part of the powertrain.
LMDh requires all cars to use the same spec electric motor, coupled to an engine of each brand’s choice.
Ginetta is already known to be keen on continuing in top-level prototype racing, based on comments from Tomlinson in March about wanting to be included in the LMDh constructors’ group, and this remains a goal in addition to the LMH exploration.
“If you want your own chassis, it’s LMH,” he explained.
“We’ve got the LMP1 which is a quick chassis and certainly a match for the [ORECA-based] Rebellion. We’ve gone toe-to-toe and even in our first year, we’ve been pretty close to them.
“So we can take the work that we’ve done on the LMP1 car, all the things that we’ve got in there, and make our investment that we’ve already made go a bit further in sports cars, rather than just be finished at the end of 2021 [when LMP1 is retired].
“And that’s what we’re trying to do with these two customers. We’ve got a competitive package that is ready to go in LMH, and we’ve also got basically an LMP2 design that we could drop on relatively quickly if we are chosen to do that, so we could do LMDh or LMH.
“We’re trying to be very helpful to the organizers and customers.”
While the companies Ginetta is in dialogue with are undisclosed, its LMH prototype platform concept appears to resemble the preferences of Ferrari, which has shown an interest in LMDh but at the same time wants more choice in terms of car design.
Last week, LMH constructor Jim Glickenhaus of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus told Sportscar365 of a similar idea to attract OEMs with a ready-made platform concept.
Ferrari has yet to comment on the recent progress made on the LMDh and LMH regulations, while it remains to be seen if an OEM would prefer to develop its own Hypercar from scratch or use another company’s platform as a starting point.
“We’re looking at one platform that can accommodate an OEM’s power unit, so they’ve got a bespoke chassis but they don’t have all the hassle of doing the design,” said Tomlinson.
“So we do all the design and homologation once, and obviously we’ll have to re-homologate it, but we’ve gone through all the pain and calculations for that.
“For example, if you’ve got Ferrari who did really want to join but they wanted to do their own chassis, why would they do their own chassis? If we’ve already got one off the peg, they could just take it and make it into a Ferrari, or whoever.
“We would just provide the base chassis and integrate their power unit for them, whoever it is.”
However, Tomlinson noted that the ambiguity regarding the eligibility of LMH cars racing against LMDh machines in IMSA events could present a potential setback.
The FIA Endurance Commission has stated that ‘mainstream automotive manufacturers’ from LMH will be permitted in IMSA, but the exact meaning of this phrase is unclear.
“The other part of it is when you’ve got customers who want to do LMH and there’s no clarity around whether they can race in America,” suggested Tomlinson.
“LMDh can race at Le Mans, but can LMH race at Daytona, Sebring or on the IMSA platform? And the answer seems to be no unless you’re an OEM. How does that work?
“If it’s a set of technical regulations that you build to, just because you’re Toyota does that mean you can race an LMH in America? I’m not quite sure how that works.
“But being able to race LMH in America with a unified platform would make a lot of sense.”
LMP1 vs Hypercar Scenario Still Possible for 2021
Tomlinson added that there is still interest for the in-house Team LNT Ginetta squad to enter next season’s WEC with its grandfathered LMP1 cars going up against the new LMH offerings, “as long as the Balance of Performance is good”.
“I’m being told that it will be equal between LMP1 and Hypercar,” he said.
“It’s for one year, they want a race and, let’s face it, there aren’t going to be thousands of Hypercars out there. Let’s say there are four, which leaves six cars in the class again.
“That’s where we are with Rebellion, Ginetta and Toyota [in the 2019-20 WEC] so at least you’ve got some kind of race at the front.”
But to race in 2021, the Ginettas would likely need to accept performance cuts in both the power and weight departments, to meet the LMH targets of 670 hp and 1030 kg.
“When our car was first made the target was 750 kg and with ballast, we’re running at 833 kg,” said Tomlinson.
“So we’ve got to put 200 kilos of ballast on it. We’ve certainly got more power than 670 hp. Maybe we’ll just use the first three gears.”