Cindric unsure if WEC hypercar regs “move the needle” for Penske
Team Penske president Tim Cindric says that the FIA World Endurance Championship’s introduction of a new breed of hypercar as its top class has not drawn the squad any nearer to a Le Mans 24 Hours return.
Roger Penske, unlike U.S. rival Chip Ganassi, has shown no interest in competing for class victories at Le Mans, targeting only victory overall, for which he aimed as a driver in 1963 and as a team owner in 1971.
Both Cindric and team owner Roger Penske have therefore long wanted the top class of the WEC to consist of the same DPi cars as the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in which they compete with Acura Team Penske.
In March, both gentlemen expressed their frustration that the WEC’s next-gen prototypes for the 2020/21 season were not heading in that direction, and since then, the WEC has firmed up its plans for so-called hypercars occupying its top class.
Both Toyota and Aston Martin have confirmed their commitment to racing hypercars, but Cindric said the new regulations have not proven any more enticing to Team Penske.
“Nothing’s changed for us,” he told Motorsport.com. “We’ve made it known that we’d like to compete for overall victory at Le Mans. Since the hypercar rules have been announced, I can’t say there’s been any more interest. Nothing’s changed in terms of us being approached by manufacturers or in terms of potential programs. You know, I don’t think the regulations have changed the landscape for us – for good or for bad.
“Right now, I think manufacturers themselves are still trying to decide whether the regulations make sense for them, before they even get to the stage of approaching the team aspect. It will be a little while before we all understand what the consensus is.”
Cindric emphasized that in an ideal world he’d like to see WEC and IMSA’s regulations merge closer together in the future.
“I think what’s good for motorsport should be good for everybody involved,” he commented, “and we’d like to see more of a global platform in sportscars, because I think sportscar racing needs more commonality across the water. That’s good for everybody.
“It doesn’t seem we’ve made too much progress on that yet. It seems a bit neutral from where I sit. I’m not sure [Hypercar regs] will move the needle at all for us. It hasn’t changed anything from our perspective.”
Given that Team Penske runs Chevrolet engines in IndyCar, Fords in NASCAR and Supercars, and Acuras in IMSA, Cindric didn’t foresee a problem running a different brand at Le Mans, which will see its first hypercars in 2021 in the finale of the WEC’s 2020/21 season.
However, he expressed considerable doubt that Penske would simultaneously run a WEC sportscar team for one OEM and an IMSA team for another.
“We’re talking two or three years from now, and I think the landscape will change quite a bit between now and then,” he said. “But I don’t see us doing two different sportscar programs. If you had a chance to go to Le Mans, why wouldn’t you just focus on that program and that series?
“Hopefully there will eventually be some commonality at the top level. I think you need that to make sense of the sportscar scene.
“But I think right now it’s premature to make any plans, because currently the manufacturers are digesting what [hypercar rules] mean for them, so the whole team aspect and racing aspect, the practicalities, are secondary to what their internal strategies are.”
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