WEC: "The market will decide" if LMDh is delayed

Jamie Klein

The new rules that will be shared by the WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship are due to be introduced in 2022, having been revealed to interested manufacturers and chassis suppliers earlier this month.

IMSA is poised to adopt LMDh as its top class, replacing the current DPi machinery, while LMDh will race alongside Le Mans Hypercars in the WEC.

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However, the press release detailing the LMDh regulations contained an admission that their introduction could be pushed back "in light of the COVID-19 pandemic" that has put sportscar racing on both sides of the Atlantic on hold.

During a briefing with journalists, Neveu said the WEC remains committed to being ready to accept LMDh cars in 2022 as planned, but that the timeline could shift if enough manufacturers ask for more time to be prepared.

"Our target is to be ready on time, because this is our commitment," said Neveu. "But after that, it will be the answer from the manufacturers [that determines if there will be a delay].

"If all of them decide, ‘impossible, we need three more months’, of if the chassis manufacturers say it’s impossible, [we will have to delay]. This is still possible. In the end, the market will decide.

"We have published the regulations. If all the manufacturers decide this is impossible, we will have to delay. Apparently, some of them are optimistic that they will be ready on time, so let’s see. It’s too early to say.

"But if the manufacturers say they will only be ready in ’23, what can I say? Our job is to be ready on time. Now they have to make a decision."

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Neveu described the regulations as "95 percent complete" and that the aim is to have the final version of the rules ready for September's Le Mans 24 Hours.

"From our side, our technical department is still working to finalise the last part that we are missing now, which is the final choice of suppliers for the different parts – [common] hybrid systems, brakes, gearbox etc.," he said.

"The target that at Le Mans in September, when the ACO and IMSA people are together, we will introduce the very final version of the technical regulations.

"For the manufacturers, they are working individually to estimate, [even though] it's not the best period to convince your board to engage in something. All the motorsport departments are working on the presentations to their boards in a few weeks, or one or two months, try to obtain the decision at the right time.

"We have to be patient now. Nothing new will happen. That’s purely [the manufacturers'] job and we will probably have some news in the summer from a few manufacturers. It’s a long process, but the welcome has been positive."

Asked if there were any plans to potentially bring forward the new-generation LMP2 cars to debut at the same time as LMDh, Neveu replied: "No change. The plan is to introduce the new [LMP2 cars] in ’23."