The 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans will start tomorrow afternoon. Ahead of the race the organising body, the ACO, along with the FIA has confirmed details of the World Endurance Championship’s Le Mans hypercar rules from the 2020 season. We covered the likelihood of this happening in a story published last year (original story here)
The ACO has obviously taken note of the dwindling number of competitors in the top-flight LMP1 class. Audi, Porsche and Toyota were fighting for overall honours will full works teams just a few years ago. Toyota is the sole OEM in the LMP1 class this year.
The ACO explained its ambitions for the Hypercar category is “to create a top class with a level playing field” and to limit the amount of performance gain that could be found through greater investment. New rules will allow the top class to accommodate specialised prototypes and racecars derived from road-going hypercars.
The proviso for these Le Mans hypercar rules is that at least 20 production models are created over a two-year period. Opening up the rules this way harks back to the era when we saw the likes of the McLaren F1, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR and Porsche GT1 all competing for overall honours.
Technical details revealed by the organisers thus far include a minimum vehicle mass of 1 100 kg coupled with a power output of 750 bhp (560 kW). These figures should allow the LMP1 replacement category cars to achieve a lap time of 3 min 30 seconds in race trim around the La Sarthe circuit.
Prototype hypercars are allowed to use a “bespoke” engine design or a modified derivative from a road-going hypercar. Road-based hypercars will use a version based on the original car or manufacturer’s design. Hybrid systems are not mandatory but a Balance of Performance (BoP) system will be applied to keep the performance of the hybrid and non-hybrid machines on a par. A similar BoP system has been employed for a few years in the GTE classes.
Lots of potential
This opens up competition to include the likes of the Mercedes-AMG Project One, Ferrari SF90 Stradale, Brabham BT62, Gordon Murray T.50, Aston Martin Valkyrie as well as future Porsche and McLaren products.
Aston Martin has already confirmed its participation in the WEC starting next year. The British team will field a minimum of two works Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercars, specially-developed for the 2020/21 seasons, including competing at the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Adrian Newey-designed car will feature a race-prepared version of its high-revving normally-aspirated 6,5-litre V12.
In his own words
“There has been a lot of hard work by many people and today we have been able to present the new 2020 Hypercar regulations. The guiding principles are guaranteed competition between the competitors, a controlled budget and spectacular racing cars and the hypercar regulations will deliver on all three principles. There has been a lot of interest from manufacturers and fans will be able to identify easily with the new cars that will be seen on track at the start of the 2020/21 season,” Richard Mille, president of the FIA Endurance Commission said.