INSIGHT: LMDh is poised to hold IMSA into a brand new golden period
If nearly all of LMDh applications I’ve heard of materialize, IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will enter uncharted territory as at least six auto producers are anticipated to fee next-generation hybrid prototypes.
To this point, three main manufacturers have dedicated to LMDh, and the one vital query left to reply is when the fourth, fifth, sixth, and extra will affirm their plans.
Of the three producers at present competing in DPi, Acura was the primary to declare its intent to remain for LMDh in 2023. It is going to proceed working with ORECA, whose 07 LMP2 chassis types the premise of the model’s championship-winning ARX-05 mannequin. Of the opposite two DPi contenders, Mazda is departing on the finish of 2021 and won’t return for LMDh, which leaves Common Motors and its Cadillac model as the one different producer left to declare its intent.
All of the indicators surrounding GM level to excessive positives. As the one DPi producer linked with Dallara, and owing to the championships and massive endurance victories earned with the P217 serving because the underpinnings for its DPi-V.R, it will be a shock if GM doesn’t signal on for LMDh and benefit from the power to ship a number of vehicles to Le Mans every June in pursuit of general victories.
One other merchandise to ponder is whether or not a GM LMDh would proceed beneath the Cadillac banner, or if the rumored Corvette sub-brand could be deployed. If we’re lucky to maintain GM when DPi transitions into LMDh, its anticipated use of the system to help its upcoming shift in direction of electrified vehicles and vehicles may type the premise of an attention-grabbing promoting initiative.
Of the newcomers, Audi and Porsche, two flagship names from the Volkswagen Group, have additionally launched LMDh applications. Multimatic, maker of Mazda’s beautiful RT24-P DPi, is anticipated to deal with the chassis provide for the German conglomerate.
Within the six weeks or so between January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and March’s 12 Hours of Sebring, the Volkswagen Group is claimed to have expanded its curiosity in utilizing LMDh as a cost-friendly platform to convey two extra of its manufacturers to the system in Bentley and Lamborghini.
Whereas Audi and Porsche are set for 2023 launches and are anticipated to subject manufacturing unit efforts in IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship, I’ve solely heard point out of Bentley and Lamborghini as being on a barely delayed LMDh trajectory for 2024.
Whether or not it’s two, three, or 4 from the Volkswagen Group, it’s apparent the corporate has discovered one thing vital on the price facet that works for all kinds of its manufacturers. Essentially the most attention-grabbing angle to emerge among the many 4 manufacturers is Lamborghini, which might be positioned as the first resolution for LMDh buyer gross sales.
And that’s to not say Audi or Porsche gained’t promote their LMDhs to privateers; we all know they’ve acquired an awesome variety of inquiries, however these are identified to be manufacturing unit racing applications before everything. If it’s correct, Lamborghini’s place within the auto trade as a producer of highly-customized tremendous vehicles can be a pure match to function Volkswagen’s provider of buyer vehicles for LMDh in North American and European endurance racing.
Relying on what number of Volkswagen Group fashions are commissioned via Multimatic, one should surprise if the corporate would have room to provide anybody aside from Audi, Porsche, and some of its sister manufacturers.
As we wrote final month, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is hoping to proceed its affiliation with BMW if and when the producer commits to LMDh. Supplied the corporate is profitable at touchdown with Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic, or ORECA earlier than different manufacturers fill the restricted variety of manufacturing vacancies, I’d really feel assured in including Bavarian Motor Works to the LMDh stampede.
Ford has supplied encouraging phrases about LMDh, however it’s laborious to get a learn on whether or not the corporate is able to press the button on a brand new skilled sports activities automotive program. I ponder if the notice about Multimatic – Ford’s accomplice within the Le Mans-winning Ford GT mission that ran via 2019 – and the excessive ambition from the Volkswagen Group may restrict the power for each side to collaborate on an LMDh. And if, by likelihood, there are not any vacancies at Multimatic, would Ford actually contemplate taking its LMDh enterprise elsewhere?
McLaren is one other producer identified to harbor an curiosity in becoming a member of the LMDh subject. I don’t assume I’d be revealing something prime secret by mentioning the model has been each cold and warm on the subject of LMDh because the new system was introduced, and if current rumblings bear any fact, the subject is getting hotter every day.
Like McLaren, the identical scorching/chilly routine has been discovered every time Hyundai’s identify is talked about. The Korean producer was mentioned to be out of the LMDh dialog late final yr when it recommitted to the World Rally Championship, however hints of a North American-based LMDh mission proceed to make the rounds.
After Acura, Audi, and Porsche, which manufacturers amongst Bentley, BMW, Ford, GM, Hyundai, Lamborghini, or McLaren shall be subsequent to plant their flag in LMDh? I don’t anticipate all seven to be represented on the WeatherTech Championship grid, however for the primary time in additional than a decade, there’s a cause imagine we’re headed in direction of a brand new golden period in North American endurance racing.