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Manufacturers: ‘Increasing Pace’ on Hypercar Regs Formalization

Toyota, Aston Martin upbeat on ‘Hypercar’ regulations amid challenging deadlines to meet…

Photo: Toyota

Toyota and Aston Martin have said that the pace is increasing in the formalization of the FIA and ACO’s ‘Hypercar’ regulations and insist that interest levels remain high in recent working group meetings.

Announced at Le Mans in June, work has continued on the 2020-21 regulations, which calls for GTP-styled prototypes with low-powered hybrid systems at a drastically reduced budget of  €25-30 million ($30-35 million) per season.

A November deadline has been set to finalize the draft set of regulations to be presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for approval in early December.

“We’re getting organized,” Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon said.

“We have challenging deadlines to provide a draft by the end of the year. We are getting organized to achieve that. We had a meeting on Thursday. The pace is increasing. We will have the rules.”

Aston Martin has also been “keen participants” in the process, according to AMR president David King.

“We’re enthusiastic and committed to do the right thing for the sport,” he told Sportscar365.

“If we collectively come out with a set of regulations that everyone is happy with, the next step is to make a decision on whether we wanted to spend the money and who we partner with and everything else.”

King admitted the tight timeframe could, however, provide the biggest challenge to manufacturers wanting to be ready for the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

“My main concern is that it would all need to happen fairly quickly given that they want cars on the grid in September 2020,” he said.

“That’s almost stretching the boundaries of what’s achievable, assuming you don’t already have a budget approved and a team ready to start designing the race car.”

While Toyota and Aston Martin have been two of the regular participants in the meetings, King indicated it’s tough to gauge the exact level of interest from others at this stage.

“[Other manufacturers] are hot and cold about it and it’s a game of poker really, as to who’s coming in and who’s not,” King said.

Vasselon added: “Some are coming, some are going. It’s difficult at the moment.

“Every time, we have a big table and a lot of people around the table to discuss. It looks OK. The interest in there.

“Fundamentally, these new regulations are attractive. I think it may take time for other manufacturers to understand it.”

Prospects of a shared platform with IMSA appear to be in flux, with the ACO reportedly being unsuccessful in courting Ford for an early commitment to the 2020-21 WEC season.

Ford has instead accelerated plans for a DPi program, indicating that it would unlikely enter the top class of the WEC unless a common set of regulations is reached with both sanctioning bodies.

Ferrari, meanwhile, is understood to have been involved in recent Hypercar developments.

Toyota ‘Commitment Update’ Set for Early 2019

Vasselon said he expects to have an update on Toyota’s commitment to the WEC by early next year.

The Japanese manufacturer is currently only confirmed through the end of the current 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ although is believed to likely continue into the following season with its existing TS050 Hybrids.

“I think we should be able to update our commitment in the beginning of 2019,” Vasselon said. “Usually we don’t commit for many seasons [at a time]. We commit for the next season. It’s the principle.”

He indicated that a 2019-20 program wouldn’t necessarily ensure that Toyota would be confirmed for the Hypercar regs the following season.

“It depends,” Vasselon said. “We have the cars available so we could do the next season and stop after. Anything is possible.”

Aston Focused on GT Despite DTM, Hypercar Talks

King, meanwhile, wouldn’t say whether Aston Martin could undertake two new factory-based programs, amid increasing speculation the British manufacturer is preparing for an entry into DTM in 2020.

While declining to comment about DTM, King reiterated its current focus remains on GT racing, despite the ongoing Hypercar talks.

“Our main commitment remains to GT racing, that’s the thing we’ve said we’re going to do for the next four seasons, at least,” he said.

“I am proud that Ferrari, Aston and Porsche are the only ever-presents in GT in WEC, and we want to carry on like that.

“Everything else is just opportunity that has to be evaluated, on what it gives to our brand, on how it helps our cars and promotes our products, and we’ll see in the next few months where we’ll go.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Helgi

    August 21, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Pffff. Why being in such a hurry if it’s known that they are going to be balanced from head (engines) to toe (L/D). They can drive an exhibition car and still be competitive in this show, called “racing” for some reason.

    • BirdBrick

      August 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

      The top class at Le Mans can NOT have BoP in it, it it ends up having it, I’m not even going to watch.

  2. GTO88

    August 21, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Didn’t Ford have a DP(I) program in the past? That always felt like preparing for GTE. I don’t see going back to a DPI only program doing much for Ford’s profile outside the US. Potentially winning Daytona and Sebring overall is nice. But beyond that not much ROI.

    • Grand Am Fan

      August 21, 2018 at 9:02 am

      One of my favorite race cars of all time was the Multimatic Ford Focus Daytona Prototype driven by Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth in the 2005 Rolex 24. I hope that the hypercar regulations make the top class look more like the awesome looking prototypes (especially the Multimatic, Chase, Picchio and Fabcar) we saw from 2003-2013 in Grand Am (a true golden era). The Multimatic Ford Focus DP was Ford’s halo car before they brought back the GT 40.

      • Tyler Sanders

        August 21, 2018 at 11:36 am

        Those grand am prototypes looked like awful Frankenstein prototypes way to stubby and short with a massive cockpit to big for the car.I’m surprised someone actual thinks they looked good. Who cared about GrandAm around 2003-2010?

        • Grand Am Fan

          August 21, 2018 at 3:42 pm

          I respectfully disagree. The lines on the Multimatic or the Chase were beautiful. The Pontiac Riley had an awesome looking front end when the Pontiac grills were added and the BMW Riley looked cool with the BMW grill decals. The Fabcar looked just like a Porsche. The Dallara’s looks said don’t mess with me. The Crawford, Proto-Auto and the Doran were very “LMP looking” if that is what you prefer.

          A lot of people loved Grand Am in the 2000s and early part of this decade. You may recall Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Rusty Wallace all crossing over and trying the Rolex 24.

          • adshjkhasd

            August 21, 2018 at 10:24 pm

            Elegant troll is elegant.

  3. Carefull with that Eugene, Axe

    August 21, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Toyota already has the GR Supersport in the pipeline as long as Aston Martin has the Valkyrie AMR, it’s pretty simple why they are in the group.

    • TF110

      August 21, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Yup. Those cars are pretty much what we’re going to be seeing. I’m happy about more engine power. That may mean we hear the engines again instead of these quiet tiny turbos. Sounds like the hybrids will be dropped in power to around 250-300hp with the engine making 700hp+. That’s nice imo. This Ford to dpi thing is not confirmed. But every article here makes it sound like it is.

    • Dave

      August 21, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Yes, this. I would love to see hypercar become a thing, even if just for a couple of seasons, but manufacturers (anyone who already has a DPi effort, plus Ford, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, etc….) will not be able to resist the value in having a global platform that competes for overall wins at both Le Mans and Daytona. Even Aston is making cryptic comments when it comes to this – “we’ll come up with the regs THEN decide whether we want to spend the money.”?!? Did I read that right? Plus, Aston, who has a big head start on the process with the Valkyrie (assuming that is even in the running as a base for a WEC car) is questioning being able to have the car ready for the 2020 season. And of course the reportage is that the attendees at the working group meetings are enthusiastic. Those are the people from different companies who are excited and supporting the concept. When they go back to their headquarters though and talk to the powers that be about HyperCar the answer is. “Yeah, that’s not happening.”

  4. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    August 21, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Doesn’t seem to be many takers on this new formula-if they have less than three commit then is it even worth it?

    • AudiTT

      August 22, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Any OEM entries, lets say three initially, would be backed up by specialist builders (Oreca, Dallara, Onroak) who will produce customer cars. They maybe branded as such, by an OEM, or by a team, like Rebellion and SMP.

  5. Degner

    August 21, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    A huge part of the Hypercar equation that isn’t discussed enough is the cost. Yes, it’s a fraction of the criminally insane money spent by Toyota and VAG to – inexplicably – line the pockets of the WEC/ACO.

    But $30-$35 million to run in the WEC’s top class is still nuts and insulting. No one, relatively speaking, even knows what the WEC is. I can walk down the streets in my city and ask anyone about the WEC. Ten out of ten will have no idea what it is.

    It barely registers globally, yet the WEC wants folks to spend $30-$35 million?

    They may get a couple manufacturers to sign on briefly but unless they really reduce the costs – let’s say by half – the Hypercar thingy will be another concept that is abandoned almost as quickly as it was proposed.

    • N8

      August 22, 2018 at 9:34 am

      I’m betting that $30-$35M is the answer to a math equation that asks, “What’s the minimum we need from OEM’s to make a World Championship that visits 6 continents financially viable”.

      The concept of manufacturers who MIGHT compete in this championship writing the rules for it proves that the money is the only thing that matters. Common sense would tell you to just write a rule book for the category and ask potential competitors to make a commitment to it for 2020 or not.

      • AudiTT

        August 22, 2018 at 9:52 am

        Apart from activation teams budget’s have no impact on the WEC. The suggested figures are for a manufacturer designing and running a car from scratch, ala Toyota today. They could equally follow a DPI lmodel and commissions Oreca to build a chassis, use a Gibson engine + hybrid, and brand it a TVR, Alpine, Mazda or whatever.

        • N8

          August 22, 2018 at 12:24 pm

          Someone has to cover the operating costs of this championship. Whether it’s part of the race budget it or not, the WEC as we know it relied heavily on manufacturer support monetarily. Maybe it’s paid in as “entry fees” or “Manufacturer partnerships” like IMSA, I really don’t know. I assumed that, whatever the FIA and ACO’s cut is, it was factored into that number.

    • AudiTT

      August 22, 2018 at 9:41 am

      The $30m cost has always been for OEM’s developing, building, and running two cars for a full World Championship season. For comparison GTE programs are north of $10m.

      Any customer option would still be in the $1m-$1.5m range plus running costs.

      I could walk down my street an no one would know what IMSA is, or DTM, or Super GT. Yet manufacturers still spend tens of millions on these domestic programs. A GTP WEC project takes you to the four corners of the globe and Le Mans.

  6. Dave

    August 21, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    “Everything else is just opportunity that has to be evaluated, on what it gives to our brand, on how it helps our cars and promotes our products, and we’ll see in the next few months where we’ll go.” – this does not sound like someone who is enthusiastic about their hypercar racing future, and they’re supposed to be one of the key players.

  7. hellothere

    August 21, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Im calling it now, this rules wont progress… two manufacturers for a complete change of rules is not enough… honestly someone believes in a semi prototype hypercar running an entire season for 30 million HAHAHAHAHAHA

    • FlyingLobster27

      August 22, 2018 at 2:55 am

      Two manufacturers were enough when the WEC was launched. Even after Audi left, the ACO/FIA tried to pursue P1-HY, with provisions to increase the share of electric power. But then something critical happened in 2017. No, not Porsche leaving – Peugeot saying it wouldn’t join. At that point, the ACO/FIA had to realise that the category was no longer attractive, and the concept for 2020 had to change.
      If it only attracts two manufacturers to start with, it’ll happen. How long it lasts will depend on how many more come along in the following years, and how easy it is to replace a departing manufacturer.

      • FLB

        August 22, 2018 at 7:51 am

        I’ve often wondered what the impact of Nissan doing things properly would have been.

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