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Endurance racing receives major boost

25 January 2020

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and North America’s sanctioning body for endurance racing, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), have announced that agreement has been reached for a common future with convergence of the top categoies of endurance racing.

The two sanctioning bodies at the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona in January unveiled the guiding principle for this platform – the introduction as the top category of competition of LMDh, which will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This joint platform responds to the wishes of numerous manufacturers.

The chance for automotive manufacturers to compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans or even Silverstone, will soon become a reality.

The ACO and IMSA have together established the basis for joint regulations to govern the new LMDh category.

The objective is that from September 2021 in the FIA WEC and from January 2022 in the WeatherTech Championship, manufacturers will be able to enter the top category and compete in the two leading championships in endurance racing with this new model of car, LMDh.

The result of this convergence, the LMDh car 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.  This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2. Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car. The car will use a common hybrid KERS system, on the rear axle.

More technical details for the car will be revealed in March at SuperSebring, in a presentation from the ACO and IMSA technical departments.

“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,” said Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship. “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.”

The two sanctioning bodies were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0. In the future the top category of endurance racing will include both LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar.  A balance of performance system will ensure fair competition.

“This announcement is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA,” said ACO president Pierre Fillon. “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 to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world,” said Jim France, IMSA chairman. “With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”

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