By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

At Daytona International Speedway today there was a joint press conference where it was announced that going forward IMSA and the FIA will come up with a rules package for the top class in sports car racing that will enable competitors on both sides of the Atlantic to compete in each other’s series for overall victories.

The announcement.  [Jack Webster photo]

The announcement. [Jack Webster photo]

Finally – American teams will be able to compete for the overall win at Le Mans, and European teams will be able to compete for overall wins at Daytona and Sebring (as well as other races).

There are a lot of details that still have to be finalized before the implantation of this new formula is put into place (by September 2021 for the WEC and by January 2022 for IMSA), but today’s press conference was a giant step forward for sports car racing worldwide.

More details regarding the new formula, which for the time being is being called LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid, hydrogen, hypercar?) are to come, with some of the new technical details to be released during the Super Sebring race week in March. Of note, the meaning of the LMDh initials were not defined as of today.

The ACO made it clear that their new Hypercar formula will continue, while all the parties in attendance also made it clear that there would be a BoP formula to equalize LMDh and Hypercars. Also mentioned were new LMP2 rules, also to implement in 2021/2022, which would stabilize that formula for the next 10 years.

Of note, not mentioned at all were the GT pro and pro/am classes that currently run both in the WEC and IMSA series. One could perhaps surmise that we may see the end of the GT pro class and the likelihood that the manufacturers that support that class may move over to the LMDh class. Already the talk in the paddock was of potential entries from perhaps Porsche and other manufacturers who are not currently playing in the DPi or LMP1 classes.

This convergence was born out of necessity, with budget restraints for motorsports participation by all manufacturers while they retool their businesses for the reality of an electric car future.

As one person in the know in the paddock told us after the announcement, the convergence of IMSA, the FIA and the ACO was necessary for anyone to survive. He likened it to getting into the last lifeboat available on the Titanic. Sink alone or take the lifeboat together – that is the choice sports car racing realistically faced today.

To use a more positive sailing reference: a rising tide raises all boats.

Here’s to the whatever may come in the future.

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