Le Mans 2020 is beginning to take a much different form than when the ACO announced its plans earlier this year.
When the race weekend began at the French classic this year, you may recall the FIA and ACO announced their plans for the LMP1 category in 2020. There were some radical proposals, including a removeable battery pack hybrid system, and requirements for the cars to operate solely on electric power on the final lap of the race.
These regulations seemed… unusual… to put it mildly. Many experts and team personnel were highly skeptical such regulations would produce entertaining racing let alone attract new manufacturers to the top category in Endurance Racing. A lot of factors since this announcement have worked against the FIA and ACO’s initial plans for LMP1 in 2020. Porsche is leaving, Toyota may follow. Manufacturers continue to opt for Formula E programs over LMP1, and IMSA’s new DPi category is proving very successful.
Pictured: The IMSA DPi’s set off at Daytona marking the first laps of the DPi era. The No. 10 Cadillac-Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing would go on to win the race.
So the governing bodies of the WEC and Le Mans have scrapped the plans for 2020.
Well done! Hats off to the powers at hand acknowledging their plans were not going to work. The L-word (logic) is not something always easily found when it comes to Motorsport.
That leaves the reg’s for 2020 LMP1 up in the air.
Since Porsche’s announcement of exiting the WEC, a hot topic of discussion has been whether or not the ACO would permit IMSA’s DPi’s to jump the pond and tour the La Sarthe tarmac (for, oh say, 24 hours?) come next June.
Staring at a depleted prototype field for the 2018-2019 “Super Season,” the possibility of 5-10 IMSA DPi’s must sound attractive. Sales agents and promoters undoubtedly see some merit to the idea.
However, the ACO and FIA must maintain the prestige that LMP1 and the WEC is superior to other forms of Sports Car racing throughout the world. Perhaps a slight modification could result in an even better product.
It seems such a solution might be on the horizon.
Recently, it has come to light the ACO and IMSA have a mutual interest in developing common regulations for the prototype regulations for 2020.
Pictured: Sebring 2017 start. The No. 13 Valliante Rebellion Oreca LMP2 leads the field. Currently DPi spec’s are an LMP2 based formula.
Although no specific details have been made official, the idea revolves around the idea of a formula similar to IMSA’s DPi regulations with an added Hybrid element. Currently, IMSA does not permit hybrid power in their prototype category and it remains unclear if the DPi manufacturers would be open to adding hybrid power to their cars.
Maybe the solution will be to allow DPi type cars race as LMP1 non-hybrids with full blown LMP1-H cars retaining a slight advantage as some have suggested.
However, adopting common prototype regulations could boost entrants for both IMSA and the WEC. We could see the European powerhouses like Mercedes or McLaren (both rumored to have interest in DPi/LMP1) battle USA manufacturers like Ford and General Motors at Daytona, Sebring AND Le Mans!
Is this real life? Someone pinch me.
Pictured: The IMSA Championship leading No. 10, winner of nearly every race this season, Wayne Taylor Racing would be chomping at the bit for further opportunity at glory in Europe.
Such a tantalizing prospect. Seems like a slam dunk logically… Oh, there we go with the L-word…
With IMSA’s current DPi regulations locked in until 2021, we may have to wait four years to see a prototype field rivaling the Group C days. But you know what? It would be well worth the wait!
Pictured: Group C machinery at its finest. Need I say more?