The ACO and IMSA have released the draft set of LMDh technical regulations to manufacturers and constructors, laying out the groundwork for the new joint top-class prototype platform which is currently scheduled to debut in 2022.
The public announcement, issued in a joint press release on Thursday, comes seven weeks after the planned unveiling of the regulations during the ‘Super Sebring’ event, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As confirmed at Daytona in January, LMDh cars will be eligible to race in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and be based on the new-generation cost-capped LMP2 formula but with branded and stylized bodywork and a manufacturer-branded engine.
Only “mainstream automotive manufacturers” can homologate a car and must associate themselves with one of the four licensed constructors which are ORECA, Ligier Automotive, Dallara and Multimatic.
The cars will feature a combined power output of 670 horsepower, between a combustion engine and spec hybrid system, along with a single homologated bodywork package, with the cars carrying a minimum weight of 1030 kg.
The numbers compare to the ACO’s previously announced specifications for its Le Mans Hypercar class, which is slated to debut with cars at around 750 horsepower and with a minimum weight of 1100 kg.
No word has been given if changes will be made to the LMH regulations ahead of the category’s WEC debut in 2021, although Thursday’s joint press release states that a global Balance of Performance will be utilized to “harmonize” the two platforms.
Unlike LMH, which allows a bespoke hybrid system on either axle, a spec rear-wheel-drive system – as expected – will be utilized in LMDh cars, although details on the power output or supplier have not yet been disclosed.
LMDh regulations will have a five-year minimum homologation period.
ACO President Pierre Fillon said convergence is now entering an “important phase” with the unveiling of the draft regs.
“The dream of many manufacturers is finally coming true,” Fillon said. “Le Mans Daytona h and Le Mans Hypercar will embody the top category of endurance racing.
“This is a historic and decisive moment for the future of our discipline.”
IMSA CEO Ed Bennett added: “We have reached another key milestone with the release of our draft technical regulations for LMDh.
“There is still more work to be done, but the positive spirit of collaboration between the ACO and IMSA, as well as our four constructors and many interested manufacturers has been fantastic and truly unprecedented.”
More than a dozen manufacturers have been in collaborative work with the ACO, IMSA and constructors Dallara, Ligier Automotive, Multimatic and ORECA on designing the regulations.
A formal presentation was made to the group last week in a videoconference.
“Since the coronavirus pandemic, the way in which motorsport will be thought about in the future has undoubtedly been affected,” said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.
“Our strategy for LMDh is to try to find the best answer to manufacturers’ technical and competitive wishes, as well as offering them the greatest global visibility for their brands.
“The top category of competition will now include low cost, high performing cars which respond to the needs of both our respective championships.”
IMSA President John Doonan said LMDh will retain “many attributes” that led to the success of its DPi platform.
“The addition of relevant technologies and the convergence of regulations with the ACO opens the door for more manufacturers to participate in the future,” Doonan said.
“We could not be more proud of the instrumental role our IMSA technical team played alongside their counterparts at the ACO to deliver these regulations.”
LMDh Debut Could Be Delayed
The ACO and IMSA have acknowledged that while still targeting a 2022 debut in both series, the rollout of the regulations could be delayed.
“This timeline will clearly need to be further validated in partnership with the automotive manufacturers, chassis constructors and key suppliers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to determine if a delayed introduction becomes necessary,” the joint statement read.
The final set of LMDh regulations is expected to be released before this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which has been rescheduled to Sept. 18-19.
IMSA “Open” to LMH Cars from Mainstream Manufacturers
LMH machinery from mainstream manufacturers, such as Toyota, are likely to be eligible in the WeatherTech Championship “once performance at IMSA circuits can be further validated.”
Previously, IMSA had been unable to officially confirm whether it would accept any LMH cars into its series.
The wording of “mainstream manufacturers” however would likely exclude participation from Glickenhaus and ByKolles, which are two of the three current companies building LMH cars for the WEC.