The crowd was impatient in the room typically used for the drivers' briefing at this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Journalists, constructors, sponsors, team managers...more than 500 people were in attendance, curious to hear the announcement promised the day before by IMSA Chairman Jim France and ACO President Pierre Fillon. On the stage, they took turns explaining the joint endeavor and introduced a video in which France, Fillon, FIA WEC CEO President Gérard Neveu, IMSA CEO Ed Bennett and IMSA President John Doonan outline the broad strokes of their common platform.
Beginning in September 2021 for the FIA WEC and January 2022 for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a new model of car, the LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h), will be eligibe to compete in both championships.
Jim France, IMSA Chairman: "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."
Pierre Fillon, ACO President: "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 SportsCar Championship. We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up."
The technical characteristics of the LMDh will be given in full in March during SuperSebring. In the meantime, IMSA President John Doonan offered: "They will have a common chassis inspired by the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 equipped with a common hybrid system (rear axle, KERS) and the manufacturer's engine, and the bodywork will reflect the manufacturer. The four current LMP2 chassis constructors have been selected: Dallara, Ligier, ORECA and Multimatic. In developing the common regulations, the ACO and IMSA are utilizing elements from their respective regulations, Le Mans Hypercar for the ACO and the DPi 2.0 for the IMSA."
Gérard Neveu, FIA WEC CEO: "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."
PHOTO: Prior to responding to various interview requests and interest from participants, Jim France and Pierre Fillon pose in front the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans flag at which Jim France served as Starter.
The ORECA Groupe's President Hugues de Chaunac considered the announcement particularly significant and symbolic delivered from Daytona during the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and its Technical Director, David Floury, commented: "This new platform will offer a fantastic return on investment for constructors. To compete in both championships, in prestigious races in the top class with a budget significantly reduced compared to LMP1s a few years ago is a great opportunity precisely when the economic models in motorsport have changed. The hybrid makes sense, especially now."
On behalf of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), Endurance Commission President Richard Mille had this to say: "I am delighted with this new initiative. It will undoubtedly benefit the FIA WEC. It will certainly bring to the FIA WEC new constructors and new competitors. The FIA will support this new class of cars with its partner, the ACO."