ACO, IMSA announce new common prototype formula

Front: Pierre Fillon (ACO President) and Jim France (IMSA Chairman); Back: Gérard Neveu (WEC CEO), John Doonan (IMSA President), and Ed Bennett (IMSA CEO)

The organisers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona have announced the creation of a new top tier prototype class known as ‘LMDh’.

Under the agreement between the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and North America’s International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), LMDh cars will be eligible for the World Endurance Championship from September 2021 and the IMSA Sportscar Championship from January 2022.

The class will replace IMSA’s DPi and sit alongside the Le Mans Hypercar class, which was announced in June 2018, through use of balance of performance.

The LMDh chassis is said to incorporate elements of the Hypercar and LMP2 specifications, but also features provisions which are very much in keeping with DPi.

Principally, those are that the chassis may be produced by any of the four existing LMP2 manufacturers in Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca; and that styling may be modified to reflect that of the engine supplier.

As part of the announcement, it was advised that LMDh cars will use a common hybrid KERS on the rear axle.

ACO President Pierre Fillon said, “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 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 (IMSA).

“We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”

IMSA Chairman Jim France said, “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.”

WEC CEO Gérard Neveu said, “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.

“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.”

IMSA President John Doonan said, “On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing.

“Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived.

“We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”

IMSA’s opening round continues with the 24 Hours of Daytona race itself tomorrow morning at 05:35 AEDT.

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