In a bid to bring the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship closer together, the FIA and ACO are looking to announced their new set of LMP1 Regulations at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The aim of the new regulations, set to come into action either for the 2020/21 or 2021/22 season, is to allow competitors from both series to race in the iconic endurance races such as Le Mans 24, Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours. The Sebring race does already appear on the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ calendar, but due to the differing car regulations the IMSA and WEC races are being held as two separate events, rather than one combined.
Pierre Fillon and WEC CEO Gerard Neveu are working on the prospect of introducing a car class that could race in both championships, looking closely at a ‘GTP’-style platform.
This would come into place instead of LMP1 and IMSA’s current LMP2.
The idea would be that WEC implement the new regulations halfway through the year for the start of their championship, then IMSA would pick up the new regulations at the beginning of the new year in time for the WEC entrants to be able to take part in the Daytona 24.
“We try to do it because it makes sense that the ACO and IMSA walk on the same line together,” Neveu told Sportscar365. “This is our hope and our wish is to make sure that we can find a way to join in the interests of the paddock because we are sharing the same clients, same competitors, same teams, same manufacturers.
“If we can find something respecting also the specificity of each paddock, this is good.
“This is why you will [meet] some technical guys from the ACO here this weekend, as you will cross some technical guys from IMSA in the events we are doing and all the meetings we are setting up in the season, technical meetings for this new regulations.”
Neveu believes that the new concept would provide the IMSA entrants with more brand identity that the current IMSA DPis. He also stated that the key point was not if the cars were running LMP2 or LMP1 chassis.
“The question is to make sure the budget will be a budget under the target we are looking for a manufacturers.
“That’s the reason why the participants around this table are manufacturers plus the FIA, the ACO and the IMSA technical delegates, working altogether to try and find the best way.”
In discussing Hybrid technology, something that only Toyota Gazoo Racing are running on the current WEC grid, Neveu said that this was a working progress. With the U.S.-based manufacturers not in favour of the new technology as they are worried about high cost a compromises is being developed.
Fillon announced that there were some ideas being developed, with the prospect of racing hybrids against non-hybirds. This could be greatly impacted by the success or failure of the new Privateer/Hybrid LMP1 field WEC have this season.
“This is probably one of the major differences of position between this part of the world and the rest of the world,” Neveu explained. “We are looking and we are trying to find a solution. This is why we are working.”
As IMSA have locked in their DPi regulations until the end of 2021, they would not be able to bring in any new regulations until the 2022 season. Due to this, WEC may extend their current LMP1 regulations to the end of the 2020/21 season so that both series could adopt the new cars within their same respective racing seasons.
The extension of the current LMP1 regulations would depend a lot on which manufacturers were looking to join the class.
“We can start in the middle of 2021 and they can join in the [beginning] of 2022,” Neveu said. “For us it doesn’t change nothing.”
Fillon added: “It’s important because you need at least two years to launch a new project. We are discussing with the FIA, IMSA and so on, and we have discussed with the manufacturers.”
The FIA and ACO intend to have the new regulations and implementation dates worked out in time for this year’s Le Mans race, where they will host a press conference to announce the future of the pinnacle of sports car racing.