Le Mans Hypercar Class Will Debut In March With No More Than Three Entries

Illustration for article titled Le Mans Hypercar Class Will Debut In March With No More Than Three Entries
Photo: Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

On Friday the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus announced that plans to debut its 007 LMH at 1000 KM of Sebring in March have been scrapped as the team ran into delays. This means that the much hyped Le Mans Hypercar class will kick off in 2021 not with a bang, but with a whimper. Toyota will, of course, have its two cars on the grid because Toyota doesn’t miss a deadline, and it’s possible, though not likely that a single ByKolles entry will take the green flag.

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Despite the announcement that the Scuderia had hired Joest Racing to assist with the program on Wenesday, and a steady trickle of photos and information on the team’s Twitter page, the car won’t be ready to race in two months time. Add in concerns of getting the Italy-based team to Florida and back amidst a surging global coronavirus pandemic, and it’ll be forced to skip round 1.

Team boss Jim Glickenhaus told Racer.com: “It’s not going to happen. So we, seeing this very early on, called up the ACO, and said, ‘Look guys, under your rules, when we say the car’s done and homologated, we’re locked into that homologation for five years. So, for us to rush to get a car to you for homologation, which means getting no testing in beforehand, not doing a 30-hour endurance test, all just to make Sebring when we don’t think Sebring’s going to happen, would be psycho-crazy for us to commit to.’ And the other thing is, with COVID, I don’t think I can get Europeans into Florida, and if I could, I don’t think they would be allowed to go back without quarantine. I can’t pay for 40 people for 14 days to quarantine.”

Whether that means the car will be homologated and ready for the second round, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, on May 1st, is yet to be seen. The team want to run an endurance test with the completed car, and spend a lot more time in Sauber Alfa Romeo’s wind tunnel before locking down the spec of the twin-turbo V8 007 LMH for five years.

Considering that SCG has recently spent time winning it class at Baja again, building and homologating a GT3-spec sports car, and planning a hydrogen-powered cross-country supercar, maybe it’s biting more than it can chew.

As for the hypercar class, it’s been slowly collapsing since the class was announced. The FIA WEC initially thought it would have support for the class from a handful of big name OEMs like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG, Peugeot, Porsche, and others, but only Toyota has offered to step up and actually build one. Not only did the numbers not arrive for LMH, but it’s looking like the class will be even less populated than LMP1 had previously been, as the Rebellion Racing team has ceased operations.

The less expensive LMDh class, jointly developed between the FIA WEC and IMSA here in North America looks to be slightly more competitive. That class is planned to be launched next year, but few have committed to it until at least 2023. It can’t come soon enough if we’re just going to be watching Toyota show up and dominate LMH for the next few seasons.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

DISCUSSION

The359
The359

I’d point out that the WEC itself started out with only Audi being the major representative in the top class because Toyota missed the opening two races.

I’d further point out that Alpine (Signatech) is planning to run a grandfathered Rebellion in the new Hypercar class for 2021 before they enter their new car in 2022, and therefore will be at the opening race alongside Toyota.