LMH, LMDh: the future of Endurance racing, walking backwards

For each step forward, we can count two backwards. This trend seems to characterize the continuous flooding of statements, regulatory changes, goodbyes and farewells that have filled. the chronicles of Endurance racing in the last three years. Crises and problems arising from the global health emergency appear simply as the straw that breaks the back of. a category that has suffered too much, becoming not much more than the shadow of what it represented in the past. On the horizon, however, significant changes can be seen: will they be enough to reverse the course of events? lmh endurance

lmh endurance

A matter of survival lmh endurance

When the Hypercar class was announced, the excitement in the world of motorsport was palpable and authentically justified. After the farewell of Audi and Porsche, the premium class of the World Endurance Championship – more than agonizing – seemed to have entered a comatose state. The overwhelming presence of the Toyota hybrid was in no way endangered by the limited resources of private teams, removing any semblance of agonism from the LMP1 class. If last season had closed with a major step forward, two steps backwards could not be long in coming. Thus came the changes to the 2019/2020 regulations, which imposed a handicap so penalizing and unfair that it made both winners and losers equally unhappy, as well as the expected, but partially disappointing, convergence between the highest expressions of global Endurance: WEC and IMSA. lmh endurance

The initial enthusiasm for the Hypercar project was very quickly dampened by its economic unsustainability. Manufacturers realised the need for almost entirely new production platforms, with little portability of research and development from previous projects. In spite of this, the (few) adherents were seduced by the objective quality and impressive performance expected from the new cars, an important showcase. The announcement of the LMDh class, while making many happy, has nevertheless compromised the expectations of the manufacturers already engaged with Hypercars, so much so that Aston Martin has been pushed to freeze the project.

An already difficult cohabitation

The advantages of the new LMDh class are many: allowing the manufacturers to line up the same car in the biggest international competitions with minimum modifications is an exceptional goal, which was indeed late in coming. However, the division of classes is not satisfactory. How can it be sustainable to have access to overall victory for two types of cars so radically different, even in financial management? Where is the appeal of starting an extremely expensive project when you can achieve the same result by investing about a tenth of what was budgeted? This misstep in the management of the regulations has not gone unnoticed, and the big brands have rushed to express their interest in the “little sister” of the LMH class, which loses relevance by the day.

FIA and ACO now run for cover. And they have done so by distorting the premium class a year before its debut on the track, scaling it down, clipping its wings. The last amendment to the 2021 regulation, pending ratification by the World Motorsport Council, equates power, weight and aerodynamics of LMH and LMDh cars. The only difference in performance to survive, for now, is the ERS, placed on the front axle for the Hypercars and on the rear axle (single-spec) for the Daytona. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to convince brands to make an investment in LMH that is still bigger,. because bigger is the expenditure to be faced in research and development. It is certain, however, that the world of motor racing has lost out in performance, competition and technological innovation.

Looking to the future… but at what cost?

The fascination of Endurance lies for the most part in the development of the vehicle, which must not “simply” achieve results to the limit of physics, but maintain and manage them for a time that would seem endless in the so-called pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1. The concept of endurance, in its literal meaning, encompasses all the shades of consistency, perseverance, obsessive and always perfectible preparation before, but above all during, the effort. It is important that the beauty of these competitions survives what is expected to be a strong period of crisis,. both financial and in values, in the world of motorsport. Equally important, however, is that this beauty be preserved in its best expression, and never loses sight of what it should be:. quoting the Cambridge Dictionary, the ability to keep doing something difficult, unpleasant, or painful for a long time”.

An italian version of this article can be found here.

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Aurora Dell'Agli

Classe 1997, studentessa di Giurisprudenza. Coordino la redazione Endurance e GT, spesso direttamente dalla pista.