ACO & IMSA Forge Alliance, Eye Convergence

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IMSA Chairman Jim France (left) and ACO President Pierre Fillon (right) pose for a photo prior to announcing the planned agreement between their two sanctioning bodies. (IMSA Photo)
IMSA Chairman Jim France (left) and ACO President Pierre Fillon (right) pose for a photo prior to announcing the planned agreement between their two sanctioning bodies. (IMSA Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Automobile Club de l’Ouest and North America’s sanctioning body for endurance racing, the International Motor Sports Ass’n, have announced that an agreement has been reached for a common future with convergence of the top categories of endurance racing.

Friday at Daytona Int’l Speedway the two sanctioning bodies unveiled the guiding principle for the proposed platform – the introduction as the top category of competition of Le Mans Daytona hypercar (LMDh), which will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA,” said Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO. “The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organizations which is a great success story for endurance racing.  A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships, the FIA WEC and the WeatherTech Championship. We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”

The chance for automotive manufacturers to compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans or even Silverstone, will soon become a reality.

The ACO and IMSA have already established the basis for joint regulations to govern the new LMDh category. Beginning in September 2021 in the FIA WEC and and in January 2022 in the WeatherTech Championship, manufacturers will be able to enter the top category and compete in the two leading championships in endurance racing in the LMDh class.

“When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona Int’l Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world,” said IMSA Chairman Jim France. “With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”

The two sanctioning bodies were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0.

The result of this convergence, the LMDh car will be:

  • Based on a new chassis common to both ACO and IMSA, using elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis, and built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2.
    The car will use a common hybrid KERS system, on the rear axle.
  • Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car

More technical details for the car will be revealed in March at SuperSebring, in a presentation from the ACO and IMSA technical departments.

In the future, the top category of endurance racing will include both LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar. A balance of performance system will ensure fair competition.

“The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car,” said Gérard Neveu, the CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship. “The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”

“On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing,” said John Doonan, IMSA president. “Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived. We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”