LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar become clearer
After the recent announcements made by the ACO and the FIA, the two classes of prototypes that will constitute the premier endurance category are emerging more clearly.
Despite a hostile health context, motorsport is not completely at a standstill. If activity is almost non-existent on the track, behind the scenes, however, the agitation continues. While Sebastian Vettel’s announced departure from Ferrari maintains a certain animation within the F1 paddock, in endurance racing, the recent press releases from the FIA and the ACO bring a little life to a somewhat gloomy news.
Admittedly, the technical details concerning the LMDh, one of the two classes of prototypes to animate the future premier endurance category, should have reached us from Sebring, last March. It was without counting on the Covid-19, came to wreak havoc on the calendar.
So with a little delay, this month of May, ACO says a little more about a platform for the first time mentioned in January 2020, the day after the last 24 Hours of Daytona.
From a category created above all to allow the technical rapprochement of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the most famous North American series of long races, the IMSA, LMDhs must allow competitors to take part in competition on both sides of the Atlantic with one and the same car.
In addition to this possible pooling, which is necessarily economically interesting, these prototypes are subject to cost limits. To achieve this, the promoter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans uses a recipe inspired by of that applied to LMP2. Having to be satisfied with a single body (exit the “weak” and “strong support” kits depending on the circuits), designed in the effigy of a major manufacturer, these prototypes can only be assembled around one of the four chassis “approved” by the organizers: Oreca, Multimatic, Dallara and Ligier.
The power of their mechanics, also badged with the name of a major automobile brand, is also capped. And now known; it cannot exceed 500 kW (680 hp), hybridization included. Because as their “h” indicates, these LMDh are electrified. However, there is no question of engaging in an expensive arms race. Engaged with the rear axle, the electric motor will be common to the entire category. As for the total weight, it is announced at 1,030 kg.
Quantified characteristics that they now share, within the same premier class, with their Le Mans Hypercar counterparts. The FIA does indeed know that these LMHs, mentioned for the first time during the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, will ultimately be less powerful, but also less heavy than initially expected. A measure taken once again with a view to limiting budgets development and operation.
This theoretical proximity between LMH and LMDh only maintains doubts as to the real interest of the first of the two classes, more expensive. Is the game worth the candle? It is to be hoped that by benefiting from greater freedom of design, than as prime contractors of their project from A to Z as authorized by the regulations, Toyota, Glickenhaus and ByKolles are doing well.
Sign that the formula is struggling for the moment to seduce, Peugeot, whose return to WEC is expected in 2022, still hesitates. Worse, one of the pillars of the discipline, Porsche no longer even hides its interest in more economical LMDhs.
But before getting a final opinion, we will have to wait until the next 24 Hours of Le Mans, at which time the ACO and the FIA should tell us even more about the future of endurance.
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