IMSA considers hybrids for next set of regulations

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Rene Rast was quickest in night practice at Sebring
Credit: Jake Galstad / LAT Images, Courtesy of IMSA

IMSA are considering introducing hybrid technology to their Daytona Prototype International category in the coming years. While this is an interesting prospect, concerns have been raised that costs may skyrocket if hybrid units are introduced.

Electrification has become a major part of racing and IMSA have recognised this. Particularly in sportscar racing, road relevance and technological advancement is viewed as an important aspect of the sport. IMSA could introduce electrification to their prototype category much like the FIA WECFormula 1 and IndyCar.

Team members and those part of IMSA expressed their opinions on this whilst speaking to Sportscar365.

Mazda Motorsport Director, John Doonan stated that the hybrid system would have to be a standardised unit in order to avoid large development costs, “If they do hybrid, it would need to be a standardized off-the-shelf system,”

Ford Performance Global Director Mark Rushbrook elaborated that there has to be a balance of development done by the teams and also regulation to keep the racing and budgets equal.

“If you make it totally wide open you’ll have the LMP1 budgets of today and there’s no progress made there. If you go everything fully spec then it’s obviously gone too much,”

IMSA President Scott Atherton is very conscious of what is and what will be relevant to manufacturers in the future.

“As we sit here trying to craft rules and regulations that will get us to that point, if you come out of Detroit auto show or the LA auto show or the Geneva auto show, there’s a lot of electrification in just about every presentation. We’re conscious of that as well.”

“I think at the end of the day it has to be relevant to a manufacturer, to a product that they’re delivering to consumers.” 

The main problem that is being faced is that if a hybrid system is itroduced it will open what John Doonan describes as “the pandora’s box of development.” Meaning that what has happened in LMP1 in recent years may happen in IMSA’s DPI category. However, if hybrid’s are integrated correctly then IMSA will be at the forefront of hybrid development with the likes of F1 and the WEC.

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