The FIA was riding high a few years ago. Its LMP1 class was booming with factory entries from Porsche, Audi, Toyota, and Nissan. The sanctioning body was filled with a Dorian Grey-esque level of confidence in its invincibility. It knew that the follow up to LMP1 had to play to the strengths of a manufacturer team, allowing OEMs to build race cars that looked more like street cars.
Then Dieselgate happened and Nissan’s car was shit. LMP1 has been trundling along for the three seasons paying mouth service to Toyota, the lone factory effort team to stick it out until the end. And the privateers? The FIA doesn’t give a damn about its privateer teams. Toyota has money, so the WEC exists to keep Toyota happy right now.
There was a point in that Hypercar discussion where the WEC could have simply worked with IMSA to allow manufacturers to build a single spec car to compete in both series. The WEC thought it could do better on its own. And besides there was plenty of interest from manufacturers in this Hypercar idea. IMSA is small potatoes, all of these OEMs want to compete at Le Mans!
The alleged interest from Mercedes-AMG, Ford, Ferrari, McLaren, and half a dozen others never materialized. ByKolles and Rebellion Racing showed interest in moving from LMP1 to Hypercar, but the WEC shoved them aside, saying privateers not aligned with a manufacturer partner were not welcome. As we entered 2020, it looked like Toyota, Aston Martin, Peugeot, and Glickenhaus. Far less than what the WEC had expected.
Ahead of the Daytona 24 in January the FIA and IMSA held a joint press conference to announce that Hypercar and DPi 2.0 would be eligible to compete against each other in a single class called LMDh. One problem here, DPi 2.0 will be orders of magnitude less expensive to enter than Hypercar is shaping up to be.
Today, Aston Martin announced it would be dropping its Valkyrie Hypercar from the entry list.
“We entered Aston Martin Valkyrie in WEC and at Le Mans with the understanding that we would be competing with similar machinery and like-minded manufacturers,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer. “The situation has changed and it makes sense for us to pause and reconsider our options.”
The LMDh class has not yet been totally defined, with more information coming at the 12 Hours of Sebring next month, and yet it is supposed to be on track and racing by August of this year. Thus far only renderings have been seen of the SCG, and Peugeot entries. Only the Toyota has been spied testing thus far. The racing starts in six months, folks! Get your butt in gear.
Aston Martin won’t be pulling the plug on its GTE-class entries, however. And it will be taking over the Racing Point Formula One team as a works Aston effort thanks to a bailout of the automaker from Racing Point team owner Lawrence Stroll.
How irate would you be if you were Toyota? The Japanese manufacturer just spent untold millions developing a new race car when it could have just bought an LMP2 chassis, stuck its P1 engine in it, and gone racing in the same class!