In a Friday press conference at Daytona International Speedway, ACO president Pierre Fillon and IMSA chairman Jim France announced a plan to allow their top-flight classed competitors to participate in the same class [dubbed LMDh] across the two sanctioning bodies. For the first time in decades manufacturer-supported teams will be eligible to compete for the overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year.
It is well known that IMSA here in the U.S. and the ACO over in France have been planning their next generation of top-class race cars separately for a couple of years now. IMSA had mentioned it was looking at allowing a slightly modified DPi platform with the addition of hybrid electric power, while the ACO has been working with manufacturers to develop a new Hypercar set of regulations which are a bit slower and a bit less costly than its current LMP1 Hybrid class.
The next generation of DPi racers under IMSA’s care will maintain a similar trajectory as had already been planned. The cars will still be based upon the four approved LMP2 manufacturers’ base chassis—Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic, and Oreca—with minor updates. These chassis will also be used for the updated LMP2 class to help keep costs low. LMDh class cars will continue to allow manufacturers to race with their own proprietary engines (rather than LMP2's spec V8) with a spec KERS system added to the rear axle. Bodywork, both design and silhouette, will be further opened to allow manufacturers to make their race cars visually fit in their corporate design aesthetic.
Pierre Fillon, ACO President: “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 organizations 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 emphasize enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
Bill France, IMSA Chairman: “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. With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
More technical details will be unveiled in March ahead of the Super Sebring weekend which will hold the FIA WEC’s 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday and IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday. Presumably the two different versions of race car will be given a Balance of Performance schedule to maintain the two classes have parity. This new regulation for Hypercar and DPi 2.0 convergence will hit the track in September of 2021 ahead of the 2021/22 season of the FIA WEC, and will be eligible for IMSA competition in January of 2022. Meanwhile, the Hypercar regs will be introduced later this year.
DPi is currently home to Mazda, Acura, and Cadillac. ACO Hypercar currently has announced entrants from Aston Martin, Peugeot/Rebellion, Toyota, and Glickenhaus. Interest has been expressed from ByKolles (which is courting a manufacturer partner) as well as Porsche, Ford, Lamborghini, and McLaren.