Exciting times ahead for fans of the iconic endurance race.
Racing fans rejoice: as of 2020, hypercars will be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans to replace the top-tier LMP1 class. Yes, that means we could see racing versions of the Aston Martin Valkyrie and McLaren Senna battle it out on the track. The new class is designed to attract more manufacturers since the race cars will more closely resemble their road car counterparts. Some technology will also be shared such as powertrains, but they will still be dedicated race cars with completely different chassis.
A name for the new hypercar class still hasn't been decided by the FIA and ACO, but potential names include Super Sportscar, GTPrototype and Le Mans Hypercars. The final name will be revealed next January following a popular vote. Compared to the expensive LMP1 class, these new race-ready hypercars will be backed by "much more reasonable budgets." A budget of 20 million euros for two cars over a full season has been set for a five-year commitment. Stricter aerodynamic restrictions will ensure the designs look "spectacular and stunning."
In terms of performance, the target lap times for these new cars is a 3:22 qualifying lap and 3:27 race lap at Le Mans. According to the FIA, each car will have one hybrid system on the front axle delivering around 268 hp, which can't cost any more than €3m to develop. The battery will weigh 154 pounds, and the motor will weigh 110 pounds. "This easily achievable specification does not require expensive development," the FIA says.
The internal combustion units will produce 697 hp with a minimum weight of 396 pounds, bringing the total output to around 1,000 hp in cars that only weigh around 2,300 pounds.
This will undoubtedly be an exciting new era for the famous endurance race. So far, the only manufacturer that has confirmed it will race in the new hypercar class is Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus with the 007 hypercar. Toyota could also be developing a new hybrid hypercar for the class previewed by the GR Super Sport concept, and Aston Martin and Koenigsegg have expressed interest in racing at Le Mans. Sadly, Ferrari and Ford don't seem to be interested in joining the hypercar class. Both manufacturers have stopped going to meetings discussing regulations for the new class according to a report by Autocar.