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ACO and IMSA merge endurance race regulations

European and American racing authorities create LMDh class for competition on both sides of Atlantic

By Sam Sheehan / Friday, January 24, 2020

Europe's Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and North America's International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) have agreed on a new class of endurance racing that will allow the same car to compete on both sides of the Atlantic. The newly formed class is called LMDh after the crowning 24-hour events of Le Mans and Daytona, for which it allows the same prototypes to compete in for the first time in decades. The new class will essentially combine the rules regulating both the World Endurance Championship's Hypercars and LMP2 classes, with IMSA-like exteriors to allow prototypes to resemble road cars.

In the WEC, the new class will share the track with the upcoming Hypercar class, using rear-mounted kinetic-energy recovery hybrid powertrains but with LMP2 chassis created by the four existing class suppliers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This may mean the LMDh cars will not quite be on the pace of the top, closed-roof and fully bespoke Hypercars at first - but with Balance of Performance enforcement to close the gap, expect racing in the category to emulate the days when GT1 and LMP1 cars shared the track.

It's not yet known if Hypercar class entrants - which are set to include Toyota, Aston Martin and Peugeot, among others - will be able to sell their engines to LMDh entrants. It seems likely, although we won't know for sure until full details of the new class are revealed in March at SuperSebring. Either way, it's a big development for manufacturers, because with one car to fit two championships, execs will no doubt now find it much easier to justify the enormous investment required to build a racing car. Things are certainly shaping up very nicely for a return to form in endurance racing's premiere category....

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