Though much attention is currently focused on the arrival of the Hypercar class in the WEC this year, with Toyota testing its GR010, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus well underway with the build of the SCG 007 and Peugeot progressing with development of its entry for 2022, the US-based LMDh class is also garnering considerable support.
LMDh cars will be eligible to race in both the IMSA championship in the USA and the WEC, including the Le Mans 24 hours, and are a far more budget-friendly proposal than Hypercar – for example, the hybrid system in IMSA cost is capped at US$365,000 and the chassis at US$409,000 – while the ACO class will likely have a budget cap of €20m (US$24m) per season.
Due to hit the track in 2023, LMDh has recently attracted commitments from former LMP1 entrants Porsche and Audi, who will now be joined by Acura, which this week announced its intention to build a car.
“All of us at IMSA are so excited about the response to the concept of LMDh and global convergence,” said IMSA president John Doonan of the announcement by Acura. “Given the commitments already announced, and the number of auto manufacturers that continue to study LMDh as a marketing and technology platform, there is a tremendous amount of momentum for the future of our sport. Acura has an outstanding record of success in prototype racing, which I experienced as a race fan from a young age and as a competitor in recent years. On behalf of IMSA, I am proud to continue working with Acura as we work collectively to continue building our sport.”
Competitors in LMDh will be able to use their own engine and manufacturer-specific bodywork on chassis provided by four suppliers, Ligier, Multimatic, Oreca and Dallara, coupled with a spec-hybrid system built by a collaboration of Bosch, Williams Advanced Engineering and Xtrac.
Though the Hypercar class has seen a setback with the postponement (cancellation) of the Aston Martin Valkyrie entry, the prospects for LMDh are looking rosier. With around 12 manufacturers said to have expressed an interest in fielding entries, it remains likely that others will join Porsche, Audi and Acura. Among these could be McLaren, with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown recently noting the team remained open to the idea of an entry.
With 2023 marking the 100th anniversary of the Le Mans race, the class certainly represents an attractive proposal for manufacturers wanting to cash in on exposure the centenary event will bring.