It’s official, Le Mans Hypercars are back for the new season in 2020. Here’s everything that you need to know about the new regulations.
Together with the ACO, the FIA has announced that the era of the spaceship prototype class race cars will come to an end at the conclusion race of the season that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2020. After that, the LMP1 void in the new 2020-2021 “Super Season” will be filled with Le Mans Hypercars like back in the days.
The reason for shifting away from the LMP1 class is simple. Whilst they were incredible machines that dominated in the early 2000’s. First bringing a diesel revolution with Peugeot and Audi. And later a Hybrid evolution with Audi, Porsche, Toyota (and Nissan). The costs of developping an LMP1 car and keeping it running throughout the whole season were incredibly high. Recent manufacturers like Audi, Porsche and Toyota budgeted over 100 million dollars to make the fastest prototype racer on the planet.
This resulted in both Audi and Porsche pulling out of the class and leaving Toyota as the only manufacturer team to dominate the other non-hybrid LMP1 private teams that work with a fraction of the budget or team.
So what’s the new regulations all about?
Well first of all: Le Mans Hypercars is not the definetive name of the class. The FIA is using this name as a temporary thing before a fan poll will pick the actual name of the class.
To give you a clear idea of the concept here. Altough the class is based on the era of the F1 GTR’s and other relatives. The Le Mans Hypercars won’t just be stripped down race specs of cars like the Chiron, Huayra,…
The cars will be built on a custom racing chassis designed for the cars but engine and hybrid supplies will be delivered from their road going versions.
And speaking of the chassis. Regulations are relatively free to allow manufacturers to create something unique and looks a bit like their road going relatives.
So summing it up. If Pagani wanted to compete in 2020, they wouldn’t be allowed to just park a Huayra on the grid. They’d have to build a chassis that could bear resemblance to the Huayra. Next they could look for an ERS Partner that would be happy to supply them with the hybrid power for their engine to fit on their FIA Chassis.
Pagani could also choose to just supply a chassis or an engine to other teams that desire such.
Cool cars, lower budgets.
The key to making this new race class succesful is the budgets involved. The FIA wants to make sure manufacturers don’t go crazy on building cars that only exist in the racing world.
They propose a budget cap of 20 million € for a two-car team per year. Something that represents a healthy reduction in costs. This makes the hypercar class attainable again for smaller manufacturers. Testing in real world conditions decreases. Along with a maximum technical staf of 40 people.
The free choice of displacement is certainly one of the most appealing things for 2020 Hypercars. In recent years we saw engines as big as a 10L V8 out of a Corvette to the tiny 2.0L V4 in the 919.
Teams can choose if they want turbocharging or not. Anything but Rotaries since they’re not considered innovative. So for example. If you want to stuff a massive supercharged 6.2L Hemi in your Hypercar racer. You’re free to do so. Regulations dictate that your stock block engine needs to have at least 25 road homologated siblings.
So the restraint in overregulation is one of the beauties of the Le Mans Hypercars.
Simplify and add lightness
Although rules dictate that the engine has to come from a production line, it doesn’t say that the block can’t be modified. Producing lighter blocks and heads is possible to pursue the 180 kg minimum engine weight. This gives the opportunity to choose whether you go for a big engine and try to shave weight by using exotic materials. Or you can go for a small engine that’s a bit more old fashioned.
One thing that could repel manufactures is the power restriction. Every engine regardless of its cilinders or displacement must make exactly 697,331 hp. No more, no less. And it can only send power to the rear wheels.
The Energy Recovery System also features the same strict regulations. Power output should only go to the front wheels with exactly 268.204 hp.
Another drastic change to keep competition alive is the introduction of Success balast. As it says, the car receives extra balast by how much success it has during the season. Each point you score will earn you 0,5 kg’s of balast that you have to take with you until the season finale. Which is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The season finale lifts off the balast for an all out spectacle. However each car can only receive as much as 50 kg’s of ballast during the season. It could prove to be a huge success or just a huge flop. But there’s still time to change it before 2020.
It all looks very exciting and we can’t wait to see if this can revive the king class of the WEC in 2020.