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McLaren Evaluating DPi Program; Brown Pushing for Global Platform

McLaren evaluating DPi program; Zak Brown pushing for global platform…

Photo: LAT/McLaren

McLaren has confirmed interest in IMSA’s DPi platform, with Zak Brown admitting it’s something the British manufacturer would “seriously consider” should the formula be adopted in prototype racing globally.

Brown, the Executive Director of McLaren Technology Group, revealed that a feasibility study for a DPi project is currently ongoing, with the the UK-based American having had discussions with IMSA on a possible entry for as early as 2019.

“It is under evaluation,” Brown told Sportscar365. “We want to see where DPi goes.

“We like DPi; we love IMSA and we love the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans. Would they land on a DPi formula, or something like it, that would be something we’d very seriously consider.

“We’re very focused on our F1 situation. But like how we did the Indy 500, we have great history in sports car racing, so it’s something we’re looking at as we speak.

“It’s nothing we’d do in 2018, but it’s something we’re watching with keen interest to see how it develops. We like what we see so far.”

With the future of the LMP1 class in question, following Porsche’s withdrawal, Brown said he’s hopeful of the FIA and ACO aligning under the DPi model, or something similar, for its top prototype class.

It would thus enable the same car to compete for overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, something that hasn’t been possible for nearly 20 years.

“I hope they ultimately come up with a global formula,” Brown said. “I’d love to see racing in the top category where someone can try to win the ‘big three.’

“If we could come up with a formula that works for all, I think that would be great for the world of sports car racing.”

While a feasibility study, including an evaluation on engines, underway for a possible DPi project, Brown said McLaren has also been keeping an eye on the ACO’s proposed 2020 LMP1 regulations, which call for fast-charging hybrid plug-ins and stretches of all-electric driving.

The status of the new regulations, however, is unclear amid Porsche’s exit, which leaves Toyota as the only current LMP1 Hybrid manufacturer on the WEC grid for next year.

“I’m waiting to hear the further details of the P1 regulations,” Brown said.

“From what I’ve initially been told, I think they’re headed down the right path. But that too is under evaluation. It certainly makes it just easier if there’s one global formula. That’s what’s most attractive to us.

“We know what DPi is. We want to race against lots of competition. When you have Penske-Acura, Joest-Mazda, that’s great.

“We’d consider both separately but our desire would be there to be one global formula. And I think my fellow manufacturers would share that view.”

Brown said he’d be open to slightly different regulations for the WEC prototype model, but stressed its importance for all cars being based around the same type of chassis.

“The rules can be slightly different,” he said. “We’d just want to use the same race car, kind of what you’ve got right now in LMP2 and DPi. European cars are eligible at Daytona.

“It would be easier to race at all the big events. The easier that is, the easier the decision becomes.”

McLaren could also find itself back at Le Mans, but in the production-based ranks, with the manufacturer believed to be developing a GTE car.

While in charge of McLaren’s Formula One and possible prototype programs, Brown said all decisions on the brand’s GT racing activities are made through McLaren Automotive, which is currently under a reorganization.

“I wouldn’t say one [program] has a better chance than the other, and I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s one or the other as well,” he said.

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

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