WEC's Le Mans Hypercars allowed to compete in IMSA from 2023
Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship will be able to compete against LMDh machinery in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023.
WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and IMSA have issued simultaneous statements announcing that they have agreed the final strand in the process of convergence between the two series that began with the announcement of the LMP2-based LMDh class in January 2020.
LMDh was announced on the eve of last year's Rolex 24 at Daytona as a category for both IMSA and the WEC.
But it was left open whether the LMH machinery that has come on stream in the WEC this season would be allowed to race against LMDh prototypes at the front of the field in IMSA.
Friday's announcement comes, according to the ACO statement, after "a high-level technical technical meeting bringing together the ACO, the FIA , IMSA and all the manufacturers officially involved in LMDh and LMH programmes".
"The parties came to an agreement that aims to balance the performance of these different types of car, most notably the powertrain and the four-wheel-drive set-up [of LMH], so that LMH cars can compete in the IMSA SportsCar Championship," the statement read.
"The specifics for four key technical elements – tyre fitment [size], acceleration profile, braking capability and aerodynamics – were converged and agreed upon by ACO, FIA, and IMSA prior to being approved by the World Motor Sport Council on July 8."
This was referenced in Thursday's WMSC bulletin, with a line reading: "The WMSC has now approved technical regulations amendment in order to achieve performance convergence of LMH and LMDh."
ACO president Pierre Fillon said: "This major announcement stems from our ambition to forge a common future for endurance racing.
"We have all worked together to achieve this landmark agreement and I would like to thank all the stakeholders very sincerely.
"The manufacturers dreamed of being able to participate in the greatest endurance races in the world with the same model of a car: this will now be reality."
IMSA boss John Doonan described the move as having the "the potential to revolutionise prototype sportscar racing all over the world".
"The stage is set for a highly-competitive top category that will include many of the world’s greatest automotive manufacturers, showcasing relevant technology in the world’s most prestigious endurance races.
"I cannot be prouder of the spirit of collaboration between our IMSA team, our colleagues at the ACO and FIA, and all of our automotive partners."
Toyota and Glickenhaus have expressed an interest in participating in at least some of the big IMSA enduros.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe team director Rob Leupen said: "We’re passionate about endurance racing and we have made no secret of our wish to take on the challenge of some of the classic races in the USA at some point.
"The Daytona 24 Hours, for example, is a legendary event and, when the circumstances allow, we would be excited to participate with our GR010 Hybrid.”
Glickenhaus has been more forthright in its ambitions to race the new Pipo-engined 007 LMH in the big IMSA races.
"I want to do Daytona and I want to Sebring and why not Petit Le Mans [at Road Atlanta] as well?" said marque founder Jim Glickenhaus earlier this year.
"I'm more interested in those races than I am in going to Bahrain, Japan or wherever to race in the WEC: I don't sell [road] cars there, but I do in America."
LMH eligibility in IMSA will be dependent on manufacturers signing up to the North American championship's commercial terms.
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