It has been officially announced by the FIA that hybrid hypercars are going to replace the LMP1 cars at Le Mans from 2020 as the “sleek, high-performance hybrid cars” do battle for the World Endurance Championship.
The FIA has been in discussions regarding changing the structure to accommodate hypercars with “much more reasonable budgets” that better resemble their road-going hypercar cousins. This is, of course, because the LMP1s are excessively expensive.
This new tier, confirmed by the FIA with the release of some regulations, is called, for the moment, ‘hyper sport endurance racing’, although that's set to change.
Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO Sport Director, says, “The regulations should encourage manufacturers to produce cars that resemble road vehicles and turn the heads of experts and newcomers alike ... and embody such things as sportiness, competition, speed, adrenaline, passion.”
Acceptable performance figures for these new cars during qualifying is a 3m 22s lap time, while a 3m 27s for the race is expected. The FIA also says that the cars will have just one 200kW hybrid system on the front axle that must fit into the R50 million development fee, while the battery and motor must weigh 70kg and 50kg respectively.
They say, “This easily achievable specification does not require expensive development.”
In terms of internal combustion, a figure of just under 525kW has been slated although, confusingly, the final, combined output is said to be to almost 750kW. The engine itself will weigh 180kg but the FIA has not yet denoted a specific consumption amount or maximum development cost.
Each car will weigh in at 1,040kg, which is light for those 750kW's, but there are also strict regulations regarding aero development to avoid a large expense. Each team is limited to a R400 million budget per full WEC season for two cars and the teams can have no more than 40 personnel.
And, if that's not going to make for a compelling season, then there's what the FIA calls the ‘success ballast'. Basically, to keep things competitive, every point a car makes in a race, 0.5kg will be added to its overall mass up to 50 extra kilograms. Until Le Mans, that is, where all 'success ballast' is removed and it's a straight race to the finish. Which should make things interesting all over again.
Although the FIA will only be announcing the official name for this new hybrid hypercar formula in January 2019, there are already a couple of manufacturers, namely Koenigsegg and Toyota who have demonstrated a very strong interest in entering teams.
Christian von Koenigsegg said earlier this year, “We would love to go and race at Le Mans. Finally, there is a chance. This new class is fantastic. If it really comes to fruition in a good way, it will be amazing.”
Toyota released the Gazoo Racing Super Sport concept a few months back too and, lest we forget, there's Aston Martin and McLaren among others who have released their own hybrid hypercars already that could, with just a little tweaking, fit the bill too.
It's all very exciting indeed.