Le Mans Prototypes are no more. The new top tier of endurance sports car racing will be known as (cue fake suspense drumroll) the LMH, or Le Mans Hypercar class.
The FIA World Motorsport Council confirmed the shift this week at its final annual meeting, presumably after which they had a Christmas party involving spraying champagne all over each other and drinking out of sweaty shoes. We can only speculate, but FIA boss and ex-Ferrari F1 team boss Jean Todt is probably an absolute crooner on the karaoke.
Anyway… the news of the LMH class being named after ‘hypercars’ is no great surprise, because it’s all part of a new set of rules designed to encourage the world’s exotica makers to bring their creations racing. If you’ve grown bored of ever more powerful and crazy-looking supercars that are too rare, impractical and just too damn fast to ever be seen on the road, or at a track day, then the Le Mans Hypercar class should be the place to restore your faith. It’s a mouth-watering prospect.
Aston Martin’s taking part, with the Valkyrie AMR. Toyota, Peugeot and perhaps McLaren, Lamborghini and Koenigsegg are interested. And this means one thing: more hypercars. Because, to stop the teams just building one-off racecar shapeships and sticking on some fake headlights, each manufacturer will have to build 20 road-going versions of the same car over two years, to sell to customers interested in some Le Mans pedigree.
There’ll only be one tyre supplier, to keep things fairer, and the target is for a 3min 30sec lap time at Le Mans. That’s slower than the outgoing LMP1 racers, but the cars will hopefully look cooler and sound better. Interestingly, in LMH, hybrid systems aren’t mandatory, and there’s no limit on fuel usage. This series could create some monsters.
LMH officially kicks off next year, and more hypercars will join the fray in 2021 and 2022. Is this the engine-powered racing car’s final moment in the sun? If so, it could be quite the swansong.