DAYTONA BEACH — The Rolex 24 and 24 Hours of Le Mans are obviously alike in one way, but different because the featured cars have their differences.
That will change in the future.
The two sanctioning bodies governing those events struck an agreement to develop a top-tier prototype that will carry the name LMDh capable of capturing the overall win here and in France.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which sanctions the World Endurance Championship, and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), which sanctions sports-car races in North America, signed an agreement Friday that will result in a car category that can be run in national and international events.
Officials from both sides of the agreement called it “a common future with convergence of the top categories of endurance racing.”
IMSA chairman Jim France, left, and ACO president Pierre Fillon sign an agreement to create a car that can race at both Daytona and Le Mans beginning in 2022. (Photo: IMSA via Daytona Beach News-Journal)
The car will debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the fall of 2021 then compete in the 2022 Rolex 24.
The concept is an evolution of the current DPi machine raced in the IMSA series, where any car manufacturer may put their engines into one of race-dedicated chassis built by Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca.
Specifically, the two sanctioning bodies were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0.
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IMSA chairman Jim France, who is the son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., said he started these talks with ACO president Pierre Fillon more than five years ago.
“I see this as a continuation of my father’s vision, which was a global international aspect for Daytona,” France said, adding he will know the formula works “when we see the same car win Daytona and Le Mans the same year.”
France said there is more collaboration across professional racing because there is more strength in numbers.
“From the motorsports standpoint, the way things are changing, we are all working together to make sure that we keep motorsports in a good, healthy spot,” he said.
Fillon said this new car is a natural progression for sports-car racing.
“The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organizations, which is a great success story for endurance racing,” he said. “A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships.
“We can’t emphasize enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
IMSA president John Doonan said this new car will heighten interest in the Rolex 24.
“When there is a global alliance, it attracts more fans and more manufacturers and more travelers coming through the gates at Daytona,” he said. “This will inject another sense of energy into coming to Daytona.”
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