Production requirements in the ‘hypercar’ top-level prototype class originated with some manufacturers requesting to run production-based equipment, according to ACO President Pierre Fillon.
The requirements formed part of Wednesday’s technical regulations reveal, in which several key rules were established for the category concept.
They state that manufacturers must build 25 road cars using production versions of their competition hybrid powertrains by the end of their first season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with that number rising to 100 by the end of the second season.
Fillon explained that the requirements were formed after some manufacturers requested to use a production-based combustion engine or energy recovery system.
“The philosophy of the rules is not to use a road car and put the road car on the track,” he told Sportscar365.
“[This] is more expensive than to produce a prototype with bodywork that looks like a hypercar. But, some manufacturers ask [for] the possibility to use some elements of the production car in the race car.
“You can have some manufacturers that want to use elements of the road car, but the road car doesn’t exist yet.
“So, the idea is, it will be possible to use some elements of the road car. It can be a hybrid system, for example, but you have to produce at least 25 [hybrid systems].
“And if you want to use other elements of the road car, you have to have the commitment to produce 25 cars in a certain amount of time.”
It’s now understood that manufacturers don’t need to meet the production demands if the engine or ERS system is not intended for a road car.
ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil confirmed to Sportscar365 that manufacturers can “build race parts without production requirements”.
Fillon, meanwhile, suggested that teams wanting to operate outside the guidelines would need to obtain special dispensation from the FIA and ACO.
“It’s to avoid manufacturers developing a specific hybrid system just for the race,” he said.
“In the rules, we defined what this hybrid system will be. But you can have something not in the rules. [You can have] special authorization to use another thing.”
Non-OEM constructors such as Onroak Automotive and ORECA will be allowed to build their own chassis and rent a hybrid system from an OEM.
The regulations state that a manufacturer must make its ERS system available for two-car teams to lease at no more than €3 million per year.
“For Ligier or for ORECA, they can produce their own chassis,” said Fillon.
“But they cannot lease the hybrid system, for example. I don’t think that Ligier or ORECA will spend money to develop a hybrid system, but they can develop a car for sure – why not?”
The hypercar rules, which will replace the current LMP1 category in the 2020-21 WEC season, are designed to increase spectator awareness of car brands.
This will be led by technical rules that encourage manufacturers to build race cars with brand-specific bodywork that can also utilize production-focused powertrain technology.
Plans to Grandfather Non-Hybrid LMP1
Fillon added that non-hybrid LMP1 cars will be allowed to compete alongside hypercars in 2020-21 under a grandfathering system.
He suggested there will be a window for co-habitation as teams transition to the new top-level formula before the LMP1 class is taken away.
“In September 2020 we will not have all the manufacturers ready to run a full season with the new hypercar,” he said.
“So the idea, for sure, is to have a grandfathered car. The LMP1 non-hybrid will continue to run, and we will continue to balance [it] with hypercar.”
Fillon also said that the LMP2 class will need to be adapted to fit in with the projected 3:27 hypercar lap times at Le Mans.
He said the FIA and ACO are “working on the next generation of LMP2” that will co-exist with the new formula beyond 2020-21.