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Single, Low-Power Hybrid in Frame for Next-Gen Regs

FIA, ACO positioning new-gen LMP1 regs for low-power, single hybrid units…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

A single, low-power hybrid system is being positioned for the new-generation LMP1 rules, which according to FIA and ACO executives, is increasingly likely to be a shared platform with IMSA.

Representatives from the three organizations, as well as current and prospective prototype manufacturers, have intensified talks for the proposed regulations, which will debut in the 2020-21 World Endurance Championship season.

The platform, which may include the option for an ‘off-the-shelf’ hybrid powertrain for small-volume manufacturers and privateers, meanwhile, could replace the current DPi regulations in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by 2022.

WEC CEO Gerard Neveu, ACO President Pierre Fillon and newly elected FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille have targeted significant cost reductions, yet maintaining the current performance levels in LMP1.

It could be achieved, according to Fillon, by a more stringent control of manufacturer development.

“The idea is to limit the development of the car,” Fillon said. “If you develop the car, the performance will be the same.

“With the rules, we can achieve that. This is the idea.

“If you spend 20 million [Euro] and another manufacturer wants to spend 30 [million], the performance will be the same.”

Annual budgets ranging from 20-35 million Euro ($25-43 million) were mentioned during a media roundtable with the FIA and ACO executives last weekend at Paul Ricard, although no firm target appears to have been set.

Fillon and Neveu, however, both agree that the regulations will feature only a single, less powerful hybrid system, instead of the permitted two systems per car, which allows up to 8 MJ of recovered entry per lap of Le Mans.

“If you want the idea to respect the cost cap or reduced cost, if you imagine more than one system, you are totally out of the game,” Neveu said.

Fillon added: “It will not be what we had in [the] Porsche and what we have in the Toyota [today].”

An off-the-shelf hybrid system, which Mille suggested could be put up for tender, is also understood to be under consideration, although Fillon said there are many options at the moment.

“It’s all under consideration,” he said.

The development comes in the wake of current and prospective DPi manufacturers throwing its support behind hybrid powertrains, similar to the FIA and ACO’s latest proposal.

IMSA Talks Intensify, June Announcement Set

Neveu, meanwhile, still remains optimistic that a deal can be reached with IMSA, with significant progress having been made in recent weeks to create a global prototype platform that would see the same set of regulations compete for overall wins at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans.

“We are permanently in contact with the people from IMSA,” he said. “We had several meetings with Jim [France], Scott [Atherton] and Ed [Bennett] to see what is possible.

“The idea is still to try to find a compromise, and also meeting the wishes of the manufacturers.”

Fillon indicated he’s “60-70 percent” confident they will reach an accord, with the goal still being to reveal an outline of the new regulations at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It’s understood the main “bullet points” for the regs will be presented to the FIA Endurance Commission next month, prior to approval by the World Motor Sport Council in June. 

Manufacturer Involvement Key to Platform’s Success

Neveu and Fillon both believe that that manufacturer participation will be key to the new platform’s success, although wouldn’t place a target number, other than “more than one and less than ten.”

A final decision also hasn’t yet been taken if the class would be hybrid-only, although Neveu admitted it’s been their intention.

“The idea is to make something that is affordable for multiple manufacturers, not just two or three, and also for the private teams,” Fillon said.

Neveu added: “If you deliver a fantastic idea but you only have one manufacturer, there is no chance to survive like that. If you find a compromise and you have three, four, five manufacturers [on board], you have to follow this direction.

“If there’s a possibility to have at the same time a way to rejoin with DPi regarding the strategic decision with sports cars all round the world, it makes sense for sure.

“But we have to be at the same time on the same line, with the best compromises as possible, with the manufacturers. Because in the end, they are the people who will decide.”

Neveu said they would be open to the possibility of mandating the customer sales of all factory prototypes, similar to a rule currently enforced in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with manufacturer powertrains. 

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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