Several of IMSA’s privateer prototype teams are in favor of delaying the rollout of the LMDh regulations to 2023, citing uncertainty in the global economy and questionable manufacturer participation in the short-term.
While having been announced to debut in both the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship in 2022, IMSA President John Doonan admitted that the ‘market will dictate’ whether the joint ruleset would be pushed back by a year due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
JDC-Miller Motorsports team co-owner John Church, who currently fields a pair of Cadillac DPi-V.Rs in the WeatherTech Championship’s top class, believes a delay to 2023 would be a “sensible thing” to do given the current climate.
“At this point yes, I would be in favor of it being delayed a year,” Church told Sportscar365.
“I’m concerned that we haven’t seen the worst of this year yet. I think there’s going be a pretty big hangover from 2020 that lasts for a year so, or more so.
“I think the sensible thing right now would be to push things off for a year. But it’s one of those things that you see what the market dictates.
“If there’s manufacturers standing in line with lots of money to spend and and they’re all gung-ho to do it, then sure let’s go.
“It certainly doesn’t appear on the surface that is maybe the case. I don’t know their business either. We see what we see and it’s hard to know for sure.”
More than a dozen manufacturers are known to have been in talks with IMSA and the ACO on the platform, which would allow the same cars to compete for overall wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, among other key endurance races.
However, as DragonSpeed team owner Elton Julian has pointed out, the nearly three-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus this year has impacted both decision-making processes and actual car development.
Julian, who fielded a LMP1 entry in the WEC in 2018-19, has been positioning his American team for a potential factory or works-supported effort in LMDh.
“I’ve been pushing IndyCar to delay as well and Formula 1 is delaying [its new regulations]. What are we rushing into?” Julian said.
“Even though there will be some races this year and we’re doing as much as we can, I think 2020 will be a year that never happened.
“All of the designs [for LMDh] have been delayed and nobody has the rules.
“I think it’s wise, but then again, I don’t hold the strings of the manufacturers.”
Fellow LMP2 entrant Peter Baron agrees with Julian in that a 2022 rollout for LMDh would be “more of an obstacle” especially if a number of manufacturers are not committed for that timeframe.
While having been represented in the LMP2 or LMPC ranks exclusively since 2015, Baron’s Florida-based team had been a stalwart competitor in the Grand-Am DP class.
“My understanding is that it’s already mixed upon who wants it and who doesn’t want it, and now add the crisis of the automobile industry,” Baron said.
“It definitely is going to make it a bit more of an obstacle.”
Julian: Revised 2020 IMSA Calendar a “Strain” on Teams
With the WeatherTech Championship season now back-loaded, which will see Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring conclude the year in November, just weeks after the Motul Petit Le Mans and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Julian has raised concern over the budgets required for privateer teams like his to compete.
“One of the things I’ve tried to stress to IMSA is you need to balance,” he said.
“They need to put races on to get money. But the cashflow they’re asking us to spend in a 4.5-5 month period is insane coming off the worst turndowns of an economy in history.
“These dates are great. But at the same time you’re talking about us spending $2.4-2.5 million on the backside from July to November and then go to Daytona [in January] immediately after that. It’s insane.
“You’re talking 2.7 million Euro ($3 million) to do the end of IMSA, Le Mans and Daytona (2021). Who is going to spend that much money and do LMP2?”