A “wider panel” of manufacturers, including low-volume hypercar and supercar producers, have been targeted for the FIA and ACO’s new top prototype class formula.
The new top class regulations, which are set to debut in the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season, have been created in consultation with leading OEMs including Toyota, Ford, Porsche and Ferrari.
However, the regulations have also been aimed for existing prototype constructors, such as ORECA, Dallara and Onroak Automotive for privateer car sales, as well as specialized boutique manufacturers.
“What is sure is that we’ll have a wider panel of manufacturers,” said FIA technical director Gilles Simon. “We may have some OEMs interested but also some specialists manufacturers.
“By specialists I mean, people doing sports cars/hypercars. There’s quite a lot of these manufacturers that are interested.
“I think we will build this category thinking to these new category of manufacturers entering the top category at Le Mans and in WEC and maybe in IMSA.”
Manufacturers such as Koenigsegg or Bugatti have been mentioned as potential targets, while James Glickenhaus, who has competed in the Nürburgring 24 with his GT3-based SCG 003C, has long held ambitions of building a car that could fight for the overall win at Le Mans.
“Dallara could make a deal with a company like Koenigsegg or Bugatti and make a car,” ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil said.
“All kinds of ideas are possible as you have the freedom to make it how you want.
“You don’t have the constraints of the aerodynamics or performance. It will make the car go in that direction but there is no constraints of being a hypercar constructor to make the car.”
Beaumesnil said each car will have a “free” design, which will not be confined to a particular road car, therefore allowing a wide range of concepts.
“The idea is to make the identity of the brand,” he said. “For example, if they make a nice show car at an [auto show], they can use this design and make it possible.
“They have the ability to make it appear as they want because the shape of the car will not be dictated by the needs of downforce and aero. So it’s really what makes it possible.”
The cars will feature bespoke prototype-grade monocoque designs but with “sports car” dimensions that will allow for increased safety measures, according to Simon.
“It will be a two-seater, so quite different than today,” he said.
FIA President Jean Todt said last month that he could foresee between “five to seven” manufacturers in the new, yet-to-be-named platform.
A detailed set of regulations is expected to be released by December.
Hybrid Development Open to All Companies
The development and sale of hybrid systems, meanwhile, will not be restricted to just OEMs, according to the FIA’s Simon, who indicated that independent companies are also free to produce power units.
All cars competing in the class will be required to utilize a front axle-mounted KERS-based system that will produce 200kW of electric power.
“We believe it’s interesting enough for specialists, of battery or electric motors, to build a proposal, but obviously it will be an open market,” said Simon.
“They can homologate a set and propose it to customers. But some manufacturers will prefer to develop their own systems.”
Beaumesnil said it hasn’t yet been determined what the cost-cap will be for the sale of the units but said that any system that’s homologated must be available for sale.