IMSA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organizing body behind the FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans, have announced a convergence between Daytona Prototype International and Le Mans Hypercar.
The news was announced during a joint press conference between the two parties at the Daytona International Speedway ahead of tomorrow’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
It brings an end to months of speculation, which had been swirling ever since the confirmation of WEC’s new Hypercar class at Le Mans last June, with several major manufacturers publicly supporting the idea of one top class across both championships.
The new top class, which will unite Hypercar and DPi, will be called LMDh, with the letters LM and D referring to Le Mans and Daytona respectively. It is currently not clear if the ‘h’ stands for hybrid. It will be introduced into the FIA World Endurance Championship from the 2021/22 season onwards, and will make its debut in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship in 2022.
In a statement released by the ACO, a number of outlines for the new class were formulated. According to the statement, LMDh machinery will be based on a new chassis common to both ACO and IMSA, using elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis, and built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. The silhouette and design of the car will be modifiable in accordance with the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car. The car will use a KERS system on the rear axle.
Balance of Performance will be utilised in the new class to level the playing field, while IMSA will completely replace the current DPi machinery with LMDh cars at the start of the 2022 season.
More technical details will be released during the Super Sebring weekend.
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO, commented: “This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA.
The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organisations which is a great success story for endurance racing. A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships, the FIA WEC and the WeatherTech Championship. We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
“When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world,” added Jim France, IMSA Chairman. With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship, said: “The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car.
The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”
John Doonan, IMSA President, commented: “On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing.
Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived. We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”