Thanks to a transatlantic sports car truce, Ferrari, Toyota and Peugeot (with its Dodge brand) look set to enter their Hypercars in the US IMSA series, running against the native LMDh cars of BMW, Acura, Audi and Porsche.
It might summon memories of Mario Andretti and Jo Siffert battling it out on the banks of Daytona in respective 512 Ss and 917Ks, but it also threatens to be a walkover by the imported Le Mans Hypercars, which are afforded much greater technical freedom (at much greater cost) than the LMDh cars which make extensive use of spec parts.
Some fear that they could dominate on both sides of the pond. Firmly outside of that group is four-time Daytona-winning team boss Wayne Taylor, who’ll be running one of Acura’s LMDh challengers. Bring it on, he says.
“100% – I think it’s really good, for the crowds, for everybody,” he said in conversation with Motor Sport. “This is the first time I’ve seen IMSA have such a global vision.”
Taylor’s WTR quad took its fourth Rolex win this year in Florida, but is now looking to the future, as itself and Meyer Shank Racing both announced deals with Acura to help develop and run its LMDh cars from 2023, with the two squads getting a car each.
Taylor is a lifer in endurance racing. As a driver the South African won the Prototype class at Le Mans in ’98 and also took overall honours at the US-based Petit Le Mans, but he now believes this truly is a revolutionary moment by both IMSA and ACO – and it’s one he embraces.
Taylor (above) took a privateer Ferrari to success in IMSA in late ’90s, but doesn’t think a similar effort would be successful now
“I’ve been in sports cars my whole friggin’ life,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen the [IMSA] Camel [GTP] series, Exxon World Sports Cars, American Le Mans, Grand-Am and now DPi.
“But now we’re going through something that sports cars has never experienced, certainly in my lifetime, where we’re going to have so much manufacturer support.
“[However] we’re going to have limited budgets, in comparison to what manufacturers were spending [previously in IMSA and WEC but], it’s achievable.”
After IMSA’s DPi class having run its commercial course, Taylor feels something had to give.
“I do not know how this could have gone if we carried on running DPi,” he says. “Clearly no other manufacturer was interested in it, and you can’t get over that. So for next year in DPi, it will be down to two Acura cars and a couple of Cadillacs in privateer hands. If it wasn’t gonna go anywhere, it wasn’t going to attract the manufacturers.”
Thus the change came, with the announcement of a slightly slower top-class of cars, LMDh, based on LMP2 chassis which could be run in both IMSA and the WEC series, meaning more American teams had a shot at 24-hour glory at La Sarthe.