With IMSA and ACO creating a common prototype platform, we could see more of drivers such as Kyle Busch racing for overall wins in endurance races, not just class wins.
This past weekend was a huge weekend for top-tier prototype racing worldwide. The week leading up to the Rolex 24 at Daytona included a monumental announcement that involved the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) coming together and announcing that they will share a common platform for their top-tier prototype cars.
Once these changes take effect, it will allow top-level prototype teams to be able to race in World Endurance Championship races and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races in the same year without making modifications to their cars.
There are currently three manufacturers in IMSA that have top level prototypes in the DPi class: Cadillac, Acura and Mazda. In the World Endurance Championship, there are three top-level prototype teams in the LMP1 class: Rebellion Racing, Team LNT, a Ginetta prototype, and Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Once this agreement goes into effect, we will be able to see all these teams in the same races competing in what they are going to call the LMDh class. The “LM” standing for Le Mans, the “D” stands for Daytona, and the meaning of the “h” is yet to be announced.
Going forward, having a common platform for all of these teams could lead to some amazing driver lineups all competing in the same class. We often see drivers from other series take part in the longer endurance races, especially in the United States in IMSA.
Over the years, we have seen a bunch of drivers make appearances in these races, including IndyCar driver Scott Dixon, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, and most recently in the Rolex 24, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. Busch made his debut this year driving with AIM Vasser Sullivan in the GTD class in their Lexus RC F GT3.
“Hopefully there is [sic] some things that Toyota’s got up their sleeve as to what kind of class they want to participate in and what kind of cars they want to run over here in the next few years. I would certainly be, you know, all hands on deck to put my hands up to get ready to go for a DP overall win,” said Busch after competing in this year’s Rolex 24 for the first time.
With the merge of these prototype classes into one universal platform, it may lead to more big-name drivers racing in at least one of the endurance races, such as the Rolex 24 or the 24 Hours of Le Mans, especially with Toyota having prototype racing in the states.
It already seems that Busch is ready to fight for the overall win at the Rolex 24, and if Toyota continue with their prototype team, he will have a real shot at the overall win. This could also lead to other Toyota NASCAR drivers such as such as Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell joining him in the effort for an overall win.
It wouldn’t have to be only Toyota drivers, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them race in the Rolex 24 as soon as Toyota have a car.
This change will take place in the World Endurance Championship starting in September of 2021, and it will begin in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starting in January of 2022. This a great change in the world of motorsports, and it should lead to many great things in the future of prototype racing.