The next Le Mans Hypercar class competition is just around the corner, with some of the biggest names returning to the race after years of sitting on the sideline. This significant change in participation comes after some much-needed transformations to the way the hypercar class was run in the past.
In this article, we will go over what the Le Mans Hypercar class is, why it was introduced to the FIA World Endurance Championship, and how it was able to improve and re-establish an expensive competition making way for new competitors, sportscar prototypes, and how the race is officiated.
Le Mans' Hypercar class race is a competition between sportscar prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship, introduced by the FIA and the ACO. These race cars are created to mimic the design of the manufacturer's signature roadside vehicle look while using the power and force of a racecar.
The LMP1 class had been the standard race in place of the Le Mans Hypercar but was removed and renamed after the Voltzwagon emission scandal in 2016 and 2017 and the increasing cost to design the best car.
While the new rules make the LMH vehicles a lot less power compared to those racing in the past, it has improved the competition tremendously.
This Hypercar class has been in the works since 2018, replacing the old LMP1 class and the rules and regulations in terms of how each car is built. This after many manufacturers bowed out one by one over the previous years, with Nissan withdrawing from the race in 2015, Audi in 2016, and Porcha not too long after that.
The reason so many competitors were dropping out of the LMP1 race was due to how much it costs to build each prototype; these companies simply couldn't afford it anymore, leaving only Toyota still standing. While hashing out the rule book, Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) made big changes to lower the costs associated with the compitition.
In 2021, the first Le Mans Hypercar race took place with the new rules and 62 cars in the competition, making it a big success compared to races in the recent past. These changes also reduced the season's budget by around 75% overall.
This class of racing was introduced to give manufacturers a more cost-effective approach to building their vehicles, giving them the ability to create cars that look similar to those you see on the road while still having enough performance and power to win a race.
The changes are pretty significant with movement in categories such as performance, cost-saving measures, and safety changes.
Performance parameters have widened significantly with a decrease in regulations when it comes to construction, especially when you are talking about the engine. Aside from the requirement of a four-stroke petrol engine, manufacturers have no restrictions in this area.
Other rules in this category include:
As mentioned, the cost is the main reason for the Le Mans Hyper class series entrance into the FIA World Endurance Championship races, with many adjustments made to the rules in order to avoid excessive spending.
Limited use of expensive materials: The minimum weight for the gearbox is about 165lbs, and aluminum or magnesium casings and bell housing is required. All tires will come from Michelin, and only a single aero kit will be permitted.
Suspension changes: The rules now state that it is forbidden to have a design with aids, including mass dampers and active systems.
Making the race more cost-efficient for manufacturers is one key goal coming from the new Le Mans Hypercar class; another key factor is increasing safety for the racers.
With the changes to regulations making the competition more accessible to competitors, there are more teams competing in this class. With the Hypercar class being open to not only specialized prototypes but road-going vehicle designs as well as permitting these competitors to now run against LMD cars which are in the US-based IMSA series, the teams jumping on board have multiplied.
In the upcoming Les Man Hypercar class series, you can look forward to awesome new designs from fantastic manufacturers such as Ferrari, Audi, Toyota, Peugeot, and quite a few others still waiting to get on the list.
|Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota GR010 Hybrid||Mike Conway Kamui Kobayashi Jose Maria Lopez|
|Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota GR010 Hybrid||Sebastien Buemi Brendon Hartley Ryo Hirakawa|
|Alpine Elf Matmut||Alpine A480-Gibson||Andre Negrao Matthieu Vaxiviere Nicolas Lapierre|
|Glickenhaus Racing||Glickenhaus 007 LMH||Olivier Pla Romain Dumas Pipo Derani|
|Glickenhaus Racing||Glickenhaus 007 LMH||Ryan Briscoe Richard Westbrook Franck Mailleux|
The latest news states that Ferrari is working with AF Corsec to compete in the championship as "Ferrari – AF Corse," already constructing their top-class LMH car.
Le Mans Hypercar class competitions are the newest addition to the FIA World Endurance Championship races; the change to the rules and regulations for this portion of the competition has given car manufacturers of all sizes the ability to compete in the class while having the ability to win, with the change in the cost to construct their vehicle and an upgrade in their rules for performance.
(Cover photo source: Tokumeigakarinoaoshima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)