The governing body of Le Mans endurance racing, the ACO, has confirmed the next generation of top-class prototype regulations, dubbed “Le Mans Hypercar Prototype”. The rules are set to enter into force from the start of the 2020/2021 season.
The Le Mans Hypercar Prototype rules centre around a target lap time at the Circuit de la Sarthe of 3:30. Cars will have a minimum weight of 1100 kilogrammes and engines will produce around 750hp. Hybrid systems will be optional on the new prototypes, with regulations permitting 250hp of hybrid power to the front axle only.
In order to equalise performance between hybrid and non-hybrid cars, hybrid deployment will be limited to a minimum speed of 120kph. In the current LMP1 class, hybrid deployment is unrestricted in this regard, giving hybrid cars a major advantage in traffic or accelerating out of slow corners.
An as-yet-unspecified form of performance balancing will be used to equalise the two underlying concepts under which eligible cars can be built: purpose-built prototypes and road-derived hypercars.
Aston Martin have already confirmed their involvement, announcing that it would be competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2020/2021. Similar announcements from current LMP1 competitors Toyota and ByKolles are expected in the very near future.
ACO Racing Director Vincent Beaumesnil also confirmed that current LMP1 machinery would continue to be eligible to race in the 2020/21 season, giving the likes of Ginetta and SMP Racing another two full seasons of competition.
Today’s announcement follows months of turmoil and rumour surrounding the new regulations. Various alternatives had been proposed, including a class approximating the DPi concept seen in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and a “GTE+” category, but were ultimately rejected.
Images © 2021 Marius Hecker/AdrenalMedia.com (FIA WEC press material)